Chinese Food in Portland – Duck House Portland

Duck House Portland opened in fall last year, and as per its name, you can definitely find Peking Duck here. They have a large menu, and it includes some Szechuan gems that you might not easily find at most Chinese restaurants, and also some Americanized Chinese dishes of you are looking for something familiar for yourself or the kids. Their Peking Duck, as well as several other dishes at Duck House, are totally worth it in my opinion especially the more hard to find ones. It’s my favorite of the three Chinese new places in Portland that recently opened. Here’s a look see.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland by Portland State University at the corner of SW 5th and College Street, in the old First National Taphouse (you will still see their tables labeled from the original owners)

They only have a limited number of ducks in stock, so to make sure you don’t miss out call ahead to reserve your duck for the day and time. They are very diligent on making sure it comes out perfectly for you, including not letting the skin get soggy, so they will even want you to call to confirm your arrival time an hour before and get nervous and call you again if you are tardy to your table reservation because they want to make sure that the skin is perfectly crispy. You can order just the traditional Peking Duck wrap version which you see below that comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce

Or you can get adds on of either the Duck Bone Soup or the Duck Meat with Bean Sprout. Or get all three! If you get all three, this Duck Trio is basically a meal in itself for 4-6 people.   If you have more (like 10 people) then you can reasonably order more food to go with the duck. I prefer getting the whole thing so I know we’ve used the whole animal, even the bones.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version which you see below that comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce. You can get adds on of either the Duck Bone Soup or the Duck Meat with Bean Sprout. Or get all three Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland traditional Peking Duck wrap version which you see below that comes with 12 pancakes, shredded cucumber, shredded scallions, and Peking Sweet Sauce. You can get adds on of either the Duck Bone Soup or the Duck Meat with Bean Sprout. Or get all three

If you are not getting the duck, or have enough to justify ordering more dishes with the duck, definitely get at least one or two appetizers. Winners that I’ve enjoyed include the xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumplings, famous for having meat and soup inside that doughy pouch of a dumpling. To eat, gently rock to separate it from the paper in the steamer and enjoy it with the black vinegar sauce. You can choose from pork xiao long bao or shrimp and pork xiao long bao for $1 more. There’s nothing wrong with the seven other dumplings – pot stickers and dumplings with various meat combos – but the xiao long bao are the stars of the dumpling choices. There’s a little extra dough at the top as you can see in the photo, but the filling inside is juicy and you can see how the pack is ready to burst in your mouth. So far these are the best Xiao Long Bao I’ve had in Portland.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumplings, famous for having meat and soup inside that doughy pouch of a dumpling. You can choose from pork xiao long bao or shrimp and pork xiao long bao for $1 more Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumplings, famous for having meat and soup inside that doughy pouch of a dumpling. You can choose from pork xiao long bao or shrimp and pork xiao long bao for $1 more

Besides the dumplings, you will also find in the Appetizers section the egg rolls, szechuan wontons with chili oil and three kinds of buns (two steamed bun versions, one pan fried bun). The Pan Fried Bun is worth a call out because they are also a Shanghai specialty also known as sheng jian bao and which have a little bit of gelatin that melts inside along with the pork meat ball inside. There might be a little too much dough around it, but it’s still a fun dish. I also recommend the wontons in chili oil as they are bold in flavor.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland szechuan wontons with chili oil Duck House Chinese Restaurant pan fried bun

Finally, in the appetizers section you will notice pancakes three different ways: the Golden Sesame Pancakes and Green Onion Pancakes are flat versions, while the Beef Roll takes a pancake and rolls it with seasoned ground beef. These are classic Chinese yummies that if you don’t usually see Chinese Pancake are worth a try.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland Beef Roll takes a pancake and rolls it with seasoned ground beef Duck House Chinese Restaurant in Portland Beef Roll takes a pancake and rolls it with seasoned ground beef

The rest of the large menu really runs the gamut from American Chinese favorites like Honey Walnut Prawns, Moo Shu Pork, Orange Chicken, and General Tso Chicken to authentic Chinese like hearty Braised Beef Noodle Soup using the wide noodles like in Chow Fun,  or any of the Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot dishes.  These Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pots arrive on a fired sizzling pan, definitely are worthwhile. You get your choice of protein varying from beef to lamb to mushrooms or in my case tofu shown, served with bean sprout, celery, bamboo shoots, leeks and bell pepper.
Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot with here Tofu or other choice of protein, served with bean sprout, celery, bamboo shoots, leeks and bell pepper sizzling at Duck House Portland Szechuan Hot and Spicy Dried Pot with here Tofu or other choice of protein, served with bean sprout, celery, bamboo shoots, leeks and bell pepper sizzling at Duck House Portland

The Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles were a bit more peanut-ty then I anticipated, but a little of chili oil added in from the garnishes (you can ask for the chili oil or Sriracha) balances it out with just that extra bit of spiciness needed. Then again I may have a higher desire for heat than the average person.
Duck House Chinese Restaurant Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles were a bit more peanut-ty then I anticipated, but a little of chili oil added in from the garnishes (you can ask for the chili oil or Sriracha) balances it out with just that extra bit of spiciness needed. Duck House Chinese Restaurant Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles were a bit more peanut-ty then I anticipated, but a little of chili oil added in from the garnishes (you can ask for the chili oil or Sriracha) balances it out with just that extra bit of spiciness needed.

They have an affordable and decent list of beers which I think are the best accompaniment to cool down spiciness. You can also take as a good sign that you will find lots of other Chinese people here of multiple generations (I’ve seen the college students up to grandparents with red envelopes on Chinese New Year) as your fellow patrons: it’s not just a Chinese joint catering to nearby PSU.

The portions here are what you would normally see at most Chinese restaurants that have a lazy susan so you can share platters that feed a whole table, so you can see quite a feast on your table just by ordering a few dishes that you should definitely all share. Don’t expect the lazy susan’s here though, as they are reusing the square wooden tables from the previous tenant, First National Taphouse.

some food at Duck House Restaurant in Portland

Are you a fan of Szechuan food? Have you had any of the dishes I’ve mentioned before? Do you eat Peking Duck?

Of the three recently Chinese restaurants I shared, Danwei Canting, XLB, and Duck House which are you most interested in?

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Departure’s December Peking Duck Dinner

Tomorrow starts December. While signifying the holiday month, it also signals that it’s Departure’s December Peking Duck Dinner month! This is a special dinner menu only available every December! This has been a tradition for several years – I think starting from 4 years ago?
Departure drink menu Departure's December Peking Duck

So from Dec 1 – Dec 30, Chef Gregory Gourdet at Departure will do his 24 hour preparation of a peking duck that involves curing the duck in 7 spice (cinnamon, star anise, allspice, coriander, clove, nutmeg, fennel and chili),  salt and sugar overnight. Then, after the initial bath, the duck gets a second quick flavor bath when it is dipped in a blanching liquid of Shoaxing rice wine, honey, salt and 7 spice.

Chef Gregory then hangs the whole ducks for 24 hours. This will dry the skin so that it both will help concentrate the flavor and is a step towards what will be crispy skin when it arrives on your table after being next roasted for an hour and then flash fried!

The duck is presented whole at the table, and then carved in the kitchen for you so you don’t have to worry about how to cut and extract all that moist meat.
Departure Peking Duck - the whole duck is presented at the table for you before it's taken back to the kitchen to be carved for you

The carved duck is served with pickled kumquats and a side of duck fat mandarin pancakes in a steamer to keep it warm. The accompaniments include little dishes of cucumbers, sliced scallions, house made plum and hoisin sauces to make your own mini wraps with all these ingredients.
Departure Peking Duck - carved by the kitchen and served with pickled kumquats and for the DIY pancakes with duck fat mandarin pancakes in a steamer to keep it warm. The accompanmients include little dishes of cucumbers, sliced scallions, house made plum and hoisin sauces to make your own mini wraps with all these ingredients

My only complaint was with the pancakes being too thick and I wanted more crispy skin. I shared this as a meal for two, but for a meal for four I would suggest ordering some additional appetizers before the duck main course appears unlike us who just had cocktails and wine.

Departure Peking Duck - carved by the kitchen and served with pickled kumquats and for the DIY pancakes with duck fat mandarin pancakes Departure Peking Duck - carved by the kitchen and served with pickled kumquats and for the DIY pancakes with duck fat mandarin pancakes in a steamer to keep it warm. The accompanmients include little dishes of cucumbers, sliced scallions, house made plum and hoisin sauces to make your own mini wraps with all these ingredients

After the carving, while the main meat is being swaddled into your do it yourself mini pancakes for your main course, the kitchen takes any of the leftover duck – every single little shred from of the duck from innards to drippings is used – to make a duck fat fried rice to be served.
Departure Peking Duck - all the leftover duck after carving for the mini pancakes are prepared into a duck fat fried rice

There is only a limited amount of Peking Ducks cured each night. So you need to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance that includes mentioning you want to reserve one of these ducks. The 2 duck courses, which serve 2-4 people, are a total of $92 for everything mentioned.

You can read the story about how Chef Gregory listed Peking Duck as one of the 10 dishes that has made his career for an article from First We Feast Gregory Gourdet The 10 Dishes That Made My Career (as of Feb 2014, so admittedly before his Top Chef season).

Make sure you order dessert to finish off after all that duck for the best delicious ending. These desserts shown below are from last year so probably are not on this year’s menu, but they give you a hint at how fabulous the desserts at Departure are and they are an underrated secret here in Portland.

Since Departure is open until midnight Sunday – Thursday and until 1 am on Friday and Saturday, getting a cocktail and dessert here is an incredible way to end a date or night out.
Dessert at Departure, December 2014 Dessert at Departure, December 2014

So who wants to have duck for the holiday, especially Departure’s December Peking Duck? Have you had Peking Duck, and what do you think of it?

PS The crazy lil sticker I have of Chef Gregory is from a mobile app game Kitchen Rush you can get from the iTunes store where you can play Chef Gregory and chop through stuff, ha ha.

Departure Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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