I stumbled into it while wandering aimlessly in Portland, Oregon’s tiny Chinatown. It was a windy and wet Portland January midday. I had just had some daikon cakes and quality green tea at the Lan Su Garden. By no means hungry at this point, but when I saw the line waiting for tables at the Chen’s Good Taste Chinese Restaurant, my instinct told me not to pass up the opportunity.
Inside, every table was already taken. Mostly Asian folks were leaning into deep dish noodle bowls slurping up noodles and/or dumplings. The display window by the street showed a couple succulent roast ducks and a slab of pork belly with crispy crackling.
A table became available. The tall guy before me said his partner hadn’t arrived yet. I elbowed my way to the one free table. The waitresses were too busy to fake their affection. Clearly people didn’t come here for the sweet service. They came here for the food. Again, my instinct told me this place had enough confidence in its quality food that it didn’t need to lay syrup on the customers. The interior was humble. No effort was wasted on interior design or atmosphere.
My wonton soup and pork belly arrived. A lot of protein for a small Asian woman, but every single morsel was enthusiastically devoured. Each wonton had a shrimp buried in it. The broth tasted of pork bones boiled for a long time to extract their essence. I’m super allergic to MSG, but I felt fine walking away from this place. The pork belly was still warm and the crackling provided contrast of texture to the unctuous meat.
If you are ever in Portland, be sure to stop here. The wonton soup and pork belly cost me $15. You will want to talk them into shipping their food to other parts of the country.
Chen's Good Taste Chinese Restaurant
18 NW 4TH Ave, Portland, OR