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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
6.3
5.0
$5
Chinese
Food cart

Hours
Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC

www.asianstationcafe.com

Downtown
SW 10th and Alder
Portland, OR
(503) 227-5727
Asian Station Café
Shanghai soup dumplings—and don’t you forget it

The owners of this little stand are passionate about their menu, which they like to think of as Chinese soul food. And as with any of Portland’s food carts, it’s a great place to see people and mingle. It’s also a great place for a progressive dinner or lunch, wandering around and sampling from each cart. But for this leg of your cart crawl, the Shanghai soup dumplings are the only reason to stop; everything else is mediocre.

Seldom available in restaurants, soup dumplings are a unique food item in Portland. The gingery soup broth on the inside is a warm, comforting burst of deliciousness upon biting into the dumpling, followed by a firm meatball of pork within the soupy depths.

The dumplings are served with brightly colored red wine vinegar whose purpose is to add some tangy acidity, but we still find a hint of sweetness in it. The dough is firm and pasty enough to hold the soup inside. Mechanically, it checks out (which is good—a soup dumpling that doesn’t remain intact can be a shirt-ruining disaster). Still, it’s not the mind-blowing experience you look for. Yet it’s still better than anything else here.

Malaysian coconut chicken curry is a bland, mushy mix of chicken, potatoes, and onions, with a surprising—perhaps overbearing—sweetness from the coconut. Its accompanying potstickers cheapen the dish a bit. Dessert roti with cinnamon and sugar are decent, but a bit illustrative of the menu’s lack of focus.

By virtue of being an open-air cart, this is indeed street food. But where are the bold, bowl-you-over flavors that Chinese street food is known for? A walk through a hawker center in China is an assault on the senses. Asian Station Café, beyond the soup dumplings, is more of a frustrating tease.

The dumplings take 10 minutes—understandable, as they’re steamed to order—but you should only visit this cart if you’re a soup-dumpling aficionado with a real craving.

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