Portland >Good Taste Noodle House
More authentic than yo' mama's noodle house!.
Let me start out by saying that the only way this place could have any less atmosphere is if they set out card tables at the Greyhound station. That said, it seems that the regulars couldn't care less about the ambiance. Personally, these guys could be handing out their bowls of dumpling noodle soup out of the back of a moving UN relief truck, and I'd chase that thing to Iraq and back.
Their namesake dumpling noodle soup is both cheap and satisfying. The broth is hearty and delicious, with generous portions of meaty pork dumplings (they look like shumai), thin Chinese egg noodles, and baby bok choy. For a little bit more, you can add chunks of BBQ pork, roast pork, or roast duck. Or, for less than $10, you can even have all three. I highly recommend you add one or more of the meats. The skin is always brown and crispy and the meat tender and juicy. They roast the meat on premises and sell it by the pound to go. The sight of whole duck or pig carcasses in the dining room may be a bit off-putting to the more squeamish or to the vegetarians out there, but it just better whets my appetite.
They also have a full menu of other Chinese dishes besides noodle soup. Their fried rice is deliciously toasty and savory, and their beef chow fun with the large flat noodles is matched perfectly by the sauce, not too sweet and not too soy-saucy. During breakfast hours, they actually serve rice porridge (a staple breakfast item in Asia, but not too common in Chinese restaurants in the states).
One of the best ways to tell the quality and authenticity of food at a Chinese restaurant is to count heads and see how many non-Chinese are eating there. Odds are, you'll be the only one in at the Good Taste Noodle House. Because it's so authentic, there are very few allowances for western sensibilities. The roast carcasses dominate the only window out, and they aren't above parading the raw animals through the dining room to the kitchen. The specials menu board is written only in Chinese and Vietnamese, so I've never been able to order off of it. During the slow times, the staff will prep vegetables or make dumplings in the dining room. Service, while adequate, is neither particularly swift nor friendly, but it's not rude or slow, either. It's just Chinese service for those who are used to it. While a lot of diners might be put off by these things, I enjoy the genuine "Chineseness" of the place, and it's one of the reasons I keep going there. This restaurant would not be out of place on a side street in Shanghai or Taipei. So, if you're feeling adventurous and tired of pho or udon, check out the Good Taste Noodle House and see how the Chinese do up the noodle. You won't be disappointed.
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