XLB Dumplings

Review – XLB (Portland, OR)

XLB – Portland, OR

Visit Date – 3-18-18

Dim Sum Curiosity

When Anna and I decided to visit Portland, we made an effort to seek out places to eat with food we couldn’t get at home.  Asian cuisine is a favorite of ours, but what we get at home is a bit less than authentic.  Being the research guy that I am, I went to work.  That research led me to the excellent Marukin and the even better XLB.

Dumplings (at least the Asian variety) are not a staple of East Tennessee’s restaurant culture.  When I was a kid, there was a place that did Dim Sum on Sunday mornings, but that restaurant has been gone since I was in my

XLB Dumplings

XLB Soup Dumplings

teens.  Television being what it is, Anna and I were curious to try more of this (outside of our area) quite popular food niche.  This led us to XLB.  XLB is known for one thing – their soup dumplings.  Soup dumplings are a tricky thing – protein and gelatinized stock are mixed together and wrapped up in a thin dough before being steamed.  Soup dumplings are XLB’s focal point and they do them excellently.  All of the rave reviews led us to their door to sample their wares.

When you walk in, you place your order at the counter before seating yourself.  Servers bring the food out to you as soon as it is ready.  We decided to go with one order of the soup dumplings, one order of

Shanghai Sausage and Shrimp Noodles

Shanghai Sausage and Shrimp Noodles

Shanghai Pork and Shrimp Noodles, and Chili Shrimp Wontons.  After beverages and tip, we still came out for less than $50. The location is clean and open.  We sat near the back at a long table and enjoyed the atmosphere.  The food came out quickly and we dug in with gusto.

Time to Eat

For the record, the soup dumplings were fantastic.  Blindingly hot inside, but thoroughly delicious.  The wrapper was soft but chewy.  Hot pillows of deliciousness.  The noodle dish was likewise excellent.  Large perfectly cooked shrimp and sausage with noodles cooked correctly.  The wonton dish was also exceptional, though the one dish we would likely skip the next time around in favor of trying something different.  The wontons came in a black bean sauce and were very different from the fried wontons I am used to at home.

We kept coming back to the dumplings though.  Amazing and full of flavor.  If only you could take them with you!


We devoured every single dumpling and most of the noodles.  Sadly, we still left a bit of the wontons and the noodles behind.  For the price we paid, we were beyond pleased with the meal.  Our friend Caitlin who accompanied us announced at the end of the meal that this would now be on her list of places to go on a regular basis.  I cannot blame her, if we lived anywhere nearby we would be regulars ourselves.

Definitely one of the best meals I have enjoyed – at any price.  Next time I am in Portland, I know where one of my meals will definitely be.

Ramen from Marukin

Review- Marukin Ramen (Portland, OR)

Visit Date: March 15, 2018

Pine Street Market

126 SW 2nd Ave #109

Portland, OR 97204

Marukin Ramen – Pine Street Market Location

Since we were going to be in Portland, and there are some really great restaurants there we decided to get some Ramen.  I am of course speaking of the real kind of ramen, not the stuff you get ten of for a dollar at the grocery store.  I am talking about the real honest to goodness Japanese slurping kind of ramen.

So after a bit of research, we headed to Marukin.  Marukin is the first US outpost of a Japanese ramen chain.  They make their broths and noodles in-house and with a fair degree of care.  Besides ramen, they also have dumplings (gyoza), fried rice bowls, and several other sides.  Intriguingly (I never did get a chance to sample any) they also have a fairly extensive selection of Japanese whiskeys on hand at varying price points (~$10 to ~$50 a glass).

The Pine Street location is part of a dining hall that also features a burger shop, French restaurant, pizza bar, ice cream shop, coffee bar, and a couple other eateries.  Everything is open and seating is shared – pretty much like a food court but with much nicer food available. Continue reading →