The Jade District in Southeast Portland is a bustling cultural hub, home to a population largely composed of immigrants and people of color. Many languages are spoken at home in this area, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Russian, and it’s one of Portland’s — and Oregon’s — most diverse neighborhoods.
Jade’s thriving small business community and unique personality make it a great place to eat, explore, read the local Portland Chinese Times newspaper and then eat some more.
Start your gastronomical Jade District adventures at Ha VL, a long-time favorite café-turned-soup haven. Ha VL prepares two rotating soups daily, in addition to a menu of tasty sandwiches and noodle dishes. Try the bún bò Huế — a heaping bowl of beef and pork in a bright, spicy lemongrass broth — or the honey-colored turmeric rice noodle Mì Quảng, topped with peanuts, sliced shrimp cakes and more. Soups sell out daily, so arrive early and wash it all down with a glass of thick, iced Vietnamese coffee.
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Ocean City is a beloved Portland dim sum and seafood staple. This sprawling establishment has an equally expansive menu offering dozens of dim sum options which are carted from the kitchen around tables, allowing patrons to freely select dishes on the spot. Take your pick of seafood from the live tank and try dim sum favorites like fried or soup dumplings, chicken feet and steamed buns.
Van Hanh Vegetarian Restaurant is a homey Vietnamese café serving up vegan-friendly fare, along with weekday and weekend menus to boot. Their crisp roast pork belly is made from a savory taro root base, and their doughy steamed dumplings are filled with smoky mung beans and served swimming in a light broth. Van Hanh is owned and operated by Buddhists who live on the property. Proceeds from each meal supports their work in the community.
Top off a day of dining with a trip to King’s Bakery to pick from their well-stocked case of freshly baked Chinese pastries. Try the pineapple custard buns, savory steamed buns, egg tarts and flaky wife cakes — then consider buying a durian or pandan cake to go. (Tip: Bring cash or fill up a whole pastry box to meet their $10 charge minimum.)
Get in on a game of billiards or some rounds of pinball at Mojo Crepes, a popular teen hangout that’s not just for adolescents. The fruit crepes are topped treacherously high or filled with whipped cream or ice cream, and their kaleidoscopic boba teas are decidedly Instagrammable, providing delicious and exciting fun for diners of any age. When the need for a bigger meal calls, chow down on an all-beef Japanese hot dog with toppings like gochochang sauce, peanuts, seaweed or sweet pickled ginger.
The last two weekends of August bustle with activity as the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon (APANO) hosts the annual Jade International Night Market near the Fubonn Shopping Center, drawing tens of thousands of attendees. The popular festival features dozens of vendors, food carts and performances, including Mexican baile folkorico, marching bands and Chinese traditional folk dance.
Night owls will rejoice in the wonders of Bliss Lounge, an LED-illuminated bar serving hot pot, stiff drinks and a fine list of karaoke jams. After singing your heart out, head to Tik Tok for some late-night crispy hash browns and over easy eggs. This 24-hour diner with several Southeast Portland locations does the hard work of feeding masses at any hour of the day.
Fubonn is a Portland cultural institution, especially for Jade District residents. This supermarket is the perfect place to wander, and a visit can reap hard-to-find fruits, a wide variety of ramen packets and every flavor Pocky stick your heart could desire. On your way out, pop into Meianna Bakery for a sweet treat such as mini cupcakes, elegant blueberry mousse cake or creamy custard buns served with hot milk tea.
Finally, pick up a forever souvenir from Portland Nursery. Enter the tropical (both in flora and temperature) paradise and find your next plant baby, artisan-made ceramic planter and more. Friendly staff are always on hand to help if you’re feeling lost.
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