Dough Zone: Some of the best dumplings in Oregon


Stone Brooks

First established almost a decade ago in 2014 in Bellevue, Wash., Dough Zone started off as a small independent Chinese restaurant. Now they’re located here in Downtown Portland! Do expect a lot from them, being that on their website it says “Dough Zone continues to place a strong emphasis on maintaining a quality dining experience, utilizing the freshest local ingredients, and providing affordable pricing.”

Dough Zone is a hit with its over 50 dishes being sold all across the West Coast. The first location in Oregon opened up in April of last year. Out of both fascination and curiosity, I hopped over to the downtown location for a little taste test. 

Starting in no specific order, we have the Xiao Long Bao, or the soup dumpling. This signature of theirs is said to contain “savory juicy goodness.” The first bite of the steaming-hot dumpling gave the impression of plunging head-first into a hot spring. The BerkShire-Duroc pork and fresh crab meat were heavenly and contributed to the soup’s strong flavor. The dough was made perfectly. It was an impressive dish that I’d say lived up to its name.

Next up is the Q-Bao or Pan Fried Dumpling, another signature. This is basically the dry equivalent to the Xiao Long Bao. But when I say dry, I don’t mean dry dry. Despite being pan fried, the dumplings hold onto the flavorful broth. It’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, a perfect balance. The Q-Bao is like a Xiao Long Bao, but crunchy and filled solely with BerkShire-Duroc pork. It was quite good, but between the Xiao Long Bao and this, I’d have to give it to the Xiao Long Bao due to it being even juicier.

To follow those delicious dumplings, we have the star of Szechuans and the only noodles in the signature dish, the Dan Dan noodles. They’re packed with Szechuan peppers which numb the tongue and have an interesting bitter chili taste. The Szechuan peppercorns mixed with chicken broth managed to overthrow the fresh onion, mustard greens, and its own taste. The combination astonished me, the Szechuan flavor itself even lingered for a few minutes after eating it. They also offer a spicier version of this dish.

This kick of spice was followed up with green onion pancakes, a house special. They were extremely overwhelming for something so simple. Maybe it was because it wasn’t a fresh one; the pancake was somewhat cold at the time. I probably won’t get it again.

To wash down the different meals, we have the icy passion fruit tea. Frankly, this was probably the best tea or drink offered there, and that isn’t saying that the others aren’t good. The drink was just too refreshing, it’s as if they left a fresh passion fruit in the cup like a tea packet. The drink itself wasn’t super sweet, but it was just a really cooling and flavorful drink. I felt like I was at a tea party.

Oolong tea was another drink I tried, despite not being a huge tea drinker. This one was a pretty basic tea you’d get at Asian restaurants when dining.

The last of the signatures is the potstickers, or pan-fried dumplings. There were four different kinds of fillings available–vegetable, chicken, pork and shrimp. I had the pork one, which is said to have absolutely no antibiotics. Its texture was nice, almost like a fine-tuned version of the Q-Bao and Xiao Long Bao, and it wasn’t super soupy or dry. The flavors were perfectly balanced.

Lastly, we have their cucumber salad, known as Sweet and Sour Cucumber. This is nothing like the Sunomono, or Japanese cucumber salad. This dish has a sweet and sour dressing, but hear me out, it is not like you think. This is literally the best way to get kids to eat greens. The appearance was amazing, and it was easy to break apart. The taste was absolutely amazing and deserves a spot on the signature dish list.

Overall the restaurant was good: the design of the place was nice and clean; food was exceptional; and the workers were nice. I highly recommend it and as a great spot to eat with friends and family. The only concern for most would probably be pricing, as it is somewhat above affordable, and parking, as it is located downtown.