Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good Taste Noodle House


I am totally guilty of this, by the way. I can eat completely mediocre food in a slightly dingy joint, but if Scott and I are the only white people, it's Fucking Amazing, and The Best-Kept Secret in Portland. In the case of Good Taste Noodle House, it's not that the secret is well-kept, it's just that it's well-kept from white people. This place really is fucking amazing, though, and not just because it has an entirely (except for us) Asian clientele.

Good Taste Noodle House is, like all of my favorite eateries these days, tucked away behind a mini-mall in Chinatown-East. You turn off the main drag, drive through a narrow passageway, and park in the center of a little oasis of Asian goodness that includes a Thai joint, a small teriyaki joint, a crawfish joint (the fuck?) and a coffee shop, among others. You want desperately to try them all, but patience, my dear. We will try each of them in time.


When you first walk into Good Taste Noodle House, you are first greeted by lovely roasted chicken and ducks smiling at you through a plexiglass box. You smile back, then notice the hindquarters of a suckling pig dangling from a salty hook in the adjacent box. You look around and see people shoveling food into their mouths with lime-green chopsticks, silent but for the sound of slurping.

You take a seat at any of the brightly-lit tables and notice, to your unimaginable delight, that they sell food by the pound (joy of joys!!). You make a mental note of this, should you find yourself needing a whole salty, crispy duck in the future.

I glance at the menu, tempted to ask the beautiful, demure waitstaff to bring me "whatever is your favorite", but instead ordered the crispy duck with shrimp wontons in broth. Scott ordered the ginger and green onion chicken with dry noodles. As we wait for our food, I joke with Scott that I should get the words "roasted duck" tattooed down my shoulder in Chinese characters, and when people ask me what it says I'll tell them it says "beautiful wisdom". We have a good laugh about this.

Oh, good lord look at this sexy bowl of noodles! The silken wonton floating lackadaisically in the intense, unctuous broth. The sliced hunks of duck, all crispy skin and fatty, rich meat nestled atop a wad of chewy yi mein.

Scott's dish came with the same yi mein (a fried wheat noodle, yellow in color from the addition of egg), piled high with soft, white chicken and two dipping bowls: one of a scallion-chicken broth, and the other of grated ginger mixed with oil. Scott thought his noodles tasted a bit funny, and I did notice a bitter aftertaste on them. I think this could be from the cooking water (maybe had an herb or root added to it?) or the noodles may have been colored with lye-water (one of the other possible additives to give the yellow color), which apparently gives a distinctive smell. I chased my bite with a nibble of chicken and a spoonful of broth, and this helped.

As with our stomachs, the place began to really fill up. We got some boxes for our leftovers so someone could have our table.

I implore you to find the Asian people where you live, and find out where they eat. Chances are, it ain't the Panda Express. Good Taste Noodle House is a small peek into another culture - one where English isn't the first language, and one where a good bowl of noodles is tantamount to happiness.

Good Taste Noodle House
8220 SE Harrison St.

Portland, OR



Good Taste Noodle House on Urbanspoon

32 comments:

glamah16 said...

How funny. Last night I attended my first Chinsese banquet in honor of our friends new baby. CS is away so I went solo. The sat me at the 'American' table which consisted of some whites and Koreans. Our table had modified courses . Instead of the pigeon ,which I wanted to try, we got Peking Duck. Neverethelss it was very good all 10 courses. Im still recovering today.

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

You eat the best food EVER!!! I've never had peking duck. I'm not a duck fan, but I want to try honest-to-goodness, totally awesome, unbelievably dank peking duck, so I'm holding out.

So, I gave you a mini-shout out on Sunny Anderson's blog. She'll be coming by to say hey, I'm sure. She really likes Portland, apparently.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I would kill for a place like that! We have a pho restaurant which is pretty good, but nothing like your place. I want to cry....

Peter G said...

You summed it up well Heather! These "hidden away from everyone else" places are the best. There are many places like this around Sydney...but I never blog about them for fear that they get discovered! (I'm surprised you don't get BBQ Pork tattoed instead!...LOL)

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Yah, trust me...I have so few Asians living here they are ALL working at Panda Express. I remember places like that in Toronto when I was younger.

We are so not cultural here is SWFL. It is getting better...we have great Hispanic food!

Manggy said...

H..Hey!! I did like at least one of the Panda Express offerings... The really unhealthy, sweet, and oily one. I've forgotten what it's called but it probably had some silly made-up name like Emperor's Chicken or Mandarin or something.

Oboy, I've suddenly got a hankering for cheap noodles! I'll have to try ordering that in the States-- see what the strange aftertaste is.

Brittany said...

prime example number 236 of why I love the PNW. The sweet ass asian food we have. I'll have to stop in there next time I'm in Portland. Those shiny ducks are taunting me.

PS- next time you're in Seattle:
1. look me up
2. go to shiki. Pufferfish, beeotch.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I posted a comment but deleted it for fear it would be have unintended consequences. So here's a more benign comment: my favourite is barbecued duck with RICE noodles. Try it with 'mai fan,' it's awesome.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Goddamn, that looks good.

That tattoo? You should go for it. Seriously.

canarygirl said...

Oh my GAWD what I wouldn't give for a little place like that here. I would seriously give *anything*. When I lived in Minneapolis, my favorite place was Pho79 on Nicollet avenue...Best. Pho. Ever.

Syd said...

I don't think we have enough Asians for a place like that. I'll trade you some Mexicans...

Heather said...

Courtney - They always hafta have a 'American' table to sequester non-Chinese people away from the really good stuff. :P

Nikki - I'm not sure if this was Peking duck (I think that's an American invention?), but this duck was insane. Dank.

Susan - I do love pho (any noodle, any nationality, really), but this was something pretty special.

Petah - I always think hard and heavy about telling others about these places. You have much more discipline that I.

Judy - I don't think we have any Cuban joints here, so count your blessings!

Mark - That sweet, oily dish (all of them, really) is so nasty-wrong-delicious.

Brittany - I've tried looking you up, but "Pie Lady" isn't in the phone book. Hahaha, I kill. We're thinking of swinging up to Vancouver for a mini vacay this month. I'll be in touch.

JS - Unintended consequences are the best kind! ;)

Sketti - I just might. I juuuuust might.

Nikki - There must be something awesome where you live now, right? In SPAIN?!?! (The grass is always greener, eh?)

Syd - We already have plenty of Mexicans. No deal! We're keeping all of our Asians to ourselves, thankyouverymuch.

Foodycat said...

Oh god how I miss proper Chinese roast duck. The way they hang so enticingly from the meathooks... That and pho are the things I miss most about Sydney.

Get yourself a half roast duck - it is a shortcut to the best Thai green curry you will ever taste.

Emiline said...

Ha ha - Stuff White People Like. I had fun looking through that blog, er, I guess it's a book, as well.

I'm glad you've found a new favorite place. The food looks delicious.

We Are Never Full said...

i LOVE being the only white person around! it makes me feel good. i like the picture you took from the table that shows a few non-whites. see, i believed you and then you had to go and prove it.

Leif erik Sundstrom said...

Hey speaking of good asian in our lovely PDX, ever find any good/authentic Szechuan in town? I heard of one, but can't remember the details. I'd kill for a place with authentic spicy szechuan that would force me to take my shirt off half way through dinner. Tempting eh?

Leif
tastevin.typepad.com

stuckinschool said...

wow. bizarre. i am eating the exact same soup, roasted duck with shrimp wontons and noodles, as i read your post! it's chilly here in the bay area so i needed warm belly food- delish!

cook eat FRET said...

as if i wasn't already jealous of your cooking prowess, now i have to be subjected to portland's cool restaurants?

nashville is a virtual wasteland of mediocrity when it comes to dining out...

canarygirl said...

Well, yeah, I mean I'm not saying we don't have awesome food round here...just that we don't have any awesome Noodle Joints (they do deserve caps)...no "real" Chinese places, no Vietnamese places at all (dammit!), and even the Japanese places are iffy--you have to know where to go. If you want a paella, wine or tapas though, you're in some serious luck. lmfao

Alex Rushmer said...

'I implore you to find the Asian people where you live, and find out where they eat'

So true.

MrOrph said...

Look at that bowl of Wonton!!!!!! My absolute favorite.

Wow Heather, what a true find. If ever in Portland, I know where I'm headed.

kittie said...

I had a 'treasure' like that when I was a student - the English menu had about a quarter of the dishes as the Cantonese one - I only got to try the good stuff when I went with my Cantonese mate! But even the English menu food was amazing!!

Heather said...

Foodycat - The meathooks really are kind of sexy, aren't they? City life - can't beat it!

Emmy - I love that blog. Some people get so pissed at being categorized, but that is just another hilarious thing (and Being Offended is just another thing white people like).

Amy - Oh, the best thing ever is stealthing photos of adjacent tables to capture the feel of a place. My favorite is catching someone with their cheek full of food as they're chewing. :)

Leif - It's a wee bit dive-y, but I love Fujin on Hawthorne. Their tofu with black bean sauce is to die. I think they specialize in Hunan and Szechuan.

Stuck - That is eeeeery. Maybe we're soulmates.

Claudia - I'd assume you'd have great Latin food, except that all the immigrants got chased out by now, yeah? Stupid asshole fake president.

Nikki - Jeeeaaalous? (^_-) (I am!)

Alex - Hi! I see you know Foodycat. Lovely girl, ain't she? I'm glad you stopped by.

Donald - The best thing is, there are at least fifty more that I haven't tried yet. (^_^)

Kittie - I've always wanted to try the hamburger in a Chinese place, but I always get waylaid by the noodles.

Leif erik Sundstrom said...

by the way, just curious - but how were the prices at this place? cheap? not?

Leif
tastevin.typepad.com

mama_nata said...

H - is this a second branch of The Good Taste in Chinatown (West?) next to the adult bookstore? The one painted pink? Went there many times with a Chinaman for lunch, and he always ordered (and I always ate) steamed broccoli on the side. Never would have picked it myself. Now can never go without.

My fave thing from your photos is the menu board where I swear it says "BBQ Dork" underlined for emphasis...

Heather said...

Leif - I totally forgot to mention that this place is hella cheap. My bowl was like $7.50 or $8, same with Scott's.

Mama Nata - Heh, which adult bookstore? ;) I don't spend a lot of time at the Old Town/Chinatown - I work downtown and usually flee home to the east side as quickly as possible, except to go to House of Louie once in awhile. So I don't know if there're two GTNHs? Hmm..my research may take me across the river...

Heather said...

Oh, hai it's Natasha! Durrr... My long, formal response is evidence that I checked your link after I replied. Cheers! :P

Zen Chef said...

I want that suckling pig. The whole f@cking thing!! Pack it up to go please.

The best food i had in Hong-Kong and Shanghai was in restaurants where i couldn't even read the menu. Same here in NY Chinatown.

mama_nata said...

Here we go - Good Taste Restaurant, just beyond the Chinatown Gate on NW 4th (http://portland.citysearch.com/profile/8463233/portland_or/good_taste_restaurant.html)

I'm not sure the adult bookstore even has a name. It's eponymous, I guess, and on the corner of 4th & Burnside. Probably worth checking out, after the bbq pork noodle soup! That place just smells good. Um, the restaurant. Maybe the bookstore too? (quietly shuffles out)

maybelles parents said...

AHH, my family and I were starting to believe that stuff white people like was only liked by non-white people...who knew?

Anonymous said...

The owners just opened up a 2nd Good Taste Noodle House at the intersection of Cornelius Pass Road and TV Hwy. Same food (excellent and authentic) but a lot closer to people on the West side. I wish them the best luck 'cause their food ROCKS, is fucking cheap, and it's a whole lot closer to where I live. Oh, and BTW, their BBQ and Roast Pork RULES.