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.