Every February, Portland celebrates its love for dough-wrapped delights with Dumpling Week, a citywide celebration featuring inventive dumpling creations that you won’t find anywhere (or anytime) else. No matter when you visit Portland, you can enjoy a variety of dumplings at these terrific eateries.
Pure Spice Restaurant
For fresh handmade Chinese dumplings (har gow) at a wallet-friendly price, head to Pure Spice Restaurant, an unassuming restaurant hidden in a strip mall on S.E. 87th Ave in the Jade District. The generous dim sum menu is peppered with classic Cantonese small plates, including gossamer-wrapped shrimp or pork and chive dumplings served from a steaming basket. And at less than $3 a pop, you can afford to eat to your heart’s content.
All hail the soup dumpling! Chinese soup dumplings, called xiaolongbao (or “XLB” for short), were lamentably scarce in Portland until XLB appeared in January 2017. Pockets of paper-thin dough surrounding a bite of meat and piping hot broth, XLB are notoriously tricky to make — and eat. (Treat that steaming broth with care!) This laid-back North Williams spot serves up these treasures along with steam buns, stir fries and other authentic Chinese street food.
Tucked under the Hawthorne Bridge in the Central Eastside, Noraneko is best known for its fried chicken and steaming bowls of ramen, but it also offers some of the tastiest gyoza in town. The Japanese-style dumplings are packed with savory pork, and come pan-fried or boiled with chicken soup. Pro tip: Visit during happy hour (4–6 p.m. every day), when the servings of gyoza are a mere $2, and wash them down with a soju chuhai cocktail.
On Sunday and Monday evenings, breezy Korean-American restaurant Han Oak transforms into a dumpling and noodle house. The normal prix-fixe menu is replaced with a more laid-back counter service dedicated to noodles and Korean-style dumplings (called mandu), along with craft cocktails.
For arguably the best Polish pierogi in town, you’ll need a membership to the Polish Library Building Association. But don’t worry: A one-day membership will only set you back one dollar. Once you’re official, you’ll have access to Grandpa’s Cafe and their handmade potato and cheese dumplings. Topped with caramelized onions and plenty of sour cream, they’re even better when washed down with an imported Polish brew. The cafe is only open Fridays and Sundays, so plan your visit accordingly.
Blaring Russian pop ballads and sporting a globe-trotting vodka list, Soviet-inspired Kachka is a Portland dining experience not to be missed. The dumplings here are chewy and petite, and can be ordered pan-fried or swimming in a decadent broth. The meaty pelmeni are stuffed with beef, veal and pork, while the vareniki come with farmer’s cheese (think the Russian version of a pierogi) or sour cherry. Wash it down with a curated vodka flight and a pickleback.
Dumplings of all varieties
The Dump Truck
For a quick dumpling fix downtown, visit the bright yellow Dump Truck food cart, where locals line up for the classic Mr. Ma’s special with pork, green onion and ginger, and the vegan potato curry served with coconut yogurt sauce. Can’t decide? Mix and match a bit of everything with their sampler options. For folks who prefer their dumpling dough wrapped around something sweet, the Dump Truck also serves rotating dessert dumplings like apple pie and pumpkin.