Danwei Canting

Recently in the past few months, three new restaurants have opened in Portland featuring Chinese food. Here’s a quick primer on the three new options for Chinese Food in Portland from Danwei Canting, XLB, and Duck House and what differentiates each one, I’ll do all three of these posts back-to-back. This first post is about Danwei Canting.
A look inside Danwei Canting A look inside Danwei Canting
What differentiates Danwei Canting is the specialization into food you would be able to get in Beijing. The service is casual counter service which seems to continue to trend this year – you go to the register where you first place your order, pay, and get a Chinese character card which is how they’ll find you to deliver your food. The food comes in simple metal plates or white bowls, and they bus your dishes from your table for you. There is a board above the register with photos of all the food, but you can find descriptions on paper menus right at the door you enter on the Stark Street side (vs the other entrance on the SE Sandy side). You’ll want to head towards the China + Portland mashup mural.
A look inside Danwei Canting
Danwei Canting after you order at the counter, you are given a card with a number where they then deliver your food

Here, you’ll find Jiaozi, or dumplings, that are steamed and offer fillings of pork jiaozi with ginger, chives, garlic and napa cabbage (white dough skin), lamb jiaozi with lamb, cumin, ginger, fermented chilis and napa cabbage (orange dough), or tofu jiaozi with tofu with sweet potato noodles, scallions, carrots and sesame (green dough). Eat these with the imported Donghu brand of the famous Shanxi mature black vinegar which you pour into the smaller sauce container already waiting with slices of bamboo shoots and ginger. Be generous dunking into the vinegar because that’s really what these dumplings are, a vehicle to get all that sauce.
Danwei Canting are really proud of their dumplings - they even imported a special dumpling making machine in order to make the capacity they need. They offer Pork Jiaozi, Spicy Lamb Jiaozi (pictured), and a vegetarian Tofu Jiaozi Danwei Canting are really proud of their dumplings - they even imported a special dumpling making machine in order to make the capacity they need. They offer Pork Jiaozi, Spicy Lamb Jiaozi and this pictured vegetarian Tofu Jiaozi

A not often seen street food, xianbing is also available here, where they offer Spiced Beef Jianbing with the minced beef sandwiched between the flaky dough layers. These are pretty good with or without sauce.
Danwei Canting Spiced Beef Jianbing with the minced beef sandwiched between the flaky dough layers Danwei Canting Spiced Beef Jianbing with the minced beef sandwiched between the flaky dough layers

Another common in Beijing but not so common dish you’ll find here are Beijing Peanuts, work roasted peanuts in black vinegar with scallions and cilantro. Other street food options include Xinjiang lamb skewers and Paigu (chinese style crispy pork ribs). I find all three of these to lean more towards “drinking food” as they are not dishes you eat on their own: you need drinks, or other dishes to balance them out. My favorite are the ribs of these three.
Danwei Canting Beijing Peanuts, work roasted peanuts in black vinegar with scallions and cilantro Danwei Canting Paigu (chinese style crispy pork ribs)

As the latter lamb and pork dishes come with just the meat on the platter, you might consider ordering a rice dish. You can just order a side of plain rice, or get a entree with rice. Danwei Canting offers two meat and rice entrees like the Chongqing Chicken, a dish of spicy chicken with whole chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns, or Hongshao Rou a dish of pork belly cooked with star anise and cinnamon and fennel seed respectively).
Danwei Canting spicy chicken with whole chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns Danwei Canting meat dish served with rice and seasonal pickles of Hong Shao Rou wtih red cooked pork belly with star anise, cinnamon, fennel seed, and crispy skin

Or try the vegetable dishes of wok seared Cauliflower with Sweet Peppers or the Green Beans with Pork and fermented bean paste. They also offer two dry noodle dishes and wonton noodle with soup,  but I preferred the rice dishes to the noodle dishes. With all these dishes notice that they are sized so you can have the dish itself as your individual entree, or at most maybe share among 2 people – so order accordingly, it’s not like the traditional Chinese place with a lazy susan and platters that can feed 4-8.

Danwei Canting Cauliflower with Sweet Peppers Danwei Canting noodle dish of Chongqing Liang Mian with thin chilled egg noodles with shredded chicken, sesasme paste, radish and spicy Chonqing sauce

Danwei Canting also offers a Beijing take on burgers, such as Pork Rou Jia Mou with pork shoulder braised with star anise, fennel seed, and ginger, or a Lamb Rou Jia Mou with lamb, ginger, and chilis, or the Spicy Tofu Rou Jia Mou with tofu roasted with cilantro, sesame and chile. I think this Spicy Tofu burger is the best option for vegetarians, and even for non vegetarians of the burgers.
Danwei Canting offers three burger/sandwiches, one of which is this vegetarian Spicy Tofu Rou Jia Mou with tofu roasted with cilantro, sesame, and chilies Danwei Canting offers three burger/sandwiches, one of which is this vegetarian Spicy Tofu Rou Jia Mou with tofu roasted with cilantro, sesame, and chilies

For drinks, look to the baijiu, which are the national liquor of China. Cheap, strong, and gluten free as it is made from sorghum and rice and usually consumed in small glasses or as shots. The baijiu here at Danwei Canting is courtesy of local Vinn Distillery and is under their Elixers section. You will find flavored versions spicy Sichuan peppers, or Star anise with ginger, clove, and goji, or Asian pear with bamboo and white wood mushroom. They also offer the baijiu in cocktails, like the Danwei Canting cocktail of Lao Ban with Vinn Baijiu infused with fresh ginger and lime, ginger beer, and ginger sugar rim.
Danwei Canting presents baijiu from Vinn Distillery, Elixers #2 and #3, but my favorite was #1 but it is really spicy so be prepared, otherwise my next fave is #2 with ginger Danwei Canting presents baijiu from Vinn Distillery, Danwei Canting cocktail of Lao Ban with Vinn Baijiu infused with fresh ginger and lime, ginger beer, and ginger sugar rim

A different cocktail I enjoyed was there in January, but replaced in February with the Black Cat cocktail with Burnside Bourbon, Townshend’s Smoke Tea Liqueur, sweet vermouth, splash of black currant syrup, dash of black walnut bitters so it looks like we’ll be seeing them rotate often.
Black Cat cocktail from Danwei Canting with Burnside Bourbon, Townshend's Smoke Tea Liqueur, sweet vermouth, splash of black currant syrup, dash of black walnut bitters

What would you order on a visit to Danwei Canting?

Danwei Canting Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Year of the Horse 2014- Chinese New Year Foods

How are you celebrating Chinese New Year 2014? This is the year of the Horse.
4 goat faces, 1 horse face with windblown mane...taken at Surfing Goat Dairy in Maui

The New Year’s Day in China (equivalent to the year in Chinese) is this Friday, January 31, but in the new year is celebrated over multiple days. It starts from the last year of the Chinese Year up to the end of the Lantern Festival 15 days later. This gives you plenty of time to still join in the traditions of gathering with your family, cleaning out the old (including cleaning your house!), and doing a few things to hopefully usher in a healthy, wealthy, new year in.

I can’t say that the cleaning my house portion is my favorite part- it’s definitely the eating certain food that are symbols of health and wealth, often because they look/sound in Chinese like words linked with health and wealth.

Every year there are two that I always do- and so far it certainly hasn’t hurt! So here are my traditional Chinese New Year Foods…

1. Eat Dumplings.

Dumplings are symbols of wealth, because traditional Chinese money were gold and silver ingots. This is pretty easy to do- there are so many places that offer dumplings, even food carts and restaurants that aren’t Chinese food specific. Mmm just look at these photos of dumplings from my past makes me want dumplings now. Particularly these ones, which are endearingly chubby.

The Dump Truck food cart dumplings Chubby potstickers are so endearing

2. Eat Noodles

Long noodles represent a nice long life, so when eating noodles for this time of year means ordering the longest noodles you can. Other than that though, they can be any kind of noodles you want- flour, rice, egg, wheat, etc. Again, I am sort of lenient on where the noodles come from and they don’t need to be Chinese- which explains below the photo from Boke Bowl which specializes in ramen with fancy upgrades like the fried chicken  and pork belly as you see below, the chinese pulled noodle specialist such as Noodle House Food Cart, or by simply rocking noodles with garlic like what you see below from Star Noodle in Maui.

Boke Bowl ramen noodles with fried chicken and pork belly and pulled pork Noodle House Food Cart Chinese noodles Garlic Noodles from Star Noodle in Maui

There are more foods to eat- check out this cool infographic from Steamy Kitchen and this 10 Good Luck Foods list from Chow.com for more foods to eat- and she also provides recipes to try! This year besides the dumplings and noodles, I am adding in cauliflower/broccoli for blossoming riches, and also shrimp for good times and lettuce for rising fortune (in Chinese the word for lettuce sounds like wealth).

In general, I think simple stir fried vegetables are also a popular part of New Years eatings because not only are they healthy, but because of the crunch sound they make associated with money, and help start the new year by not taking the life of an animal to start off the year. It also balances out your meal of dumplings and noodles :X. Your dessert can be oranges and tangerines.
Chinese broccoli- an auspicious Chinese New Year Food because not only are they healthy, but because of the crunch sound they make associated with money, and help start the new year by not taking the life of an animal to start off the year.

The Chinese New Year Lantern viewings at the local Lan Su Chinese Gardens are offering a lot of activities- they sold out last year, so you might want to buy your advance tickets now! Their festivities include a dragon and lion dance of course, but also martial arts demonstrations, miniature horses, calligraphy demonstrations, a Chinese Wishing Tree, and with the Lantern Festival lots of lanterns! Did I mention little miniature horses? Inside of the gardens they have a tea house where you can enjoy a selection of various Chinese teas and snacks (and hey, maybe get some radish cake, rice cakes, etc. to get your prosperous New Year’s eating in!)

Lantern Festival in the rain at Lan Su Chinese Gardens tea and Chinese snack at Lan Su Chinese Gardens

In addition, on Feb 1, at the Oregon Convention Center there is also the Portland Chinese New Year Cultural Fair that includes more cultural performances. And food too.

I wish you a happy Chinese New Year! Tell me how you plan to celebrate it!?

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