Sunday, April 05, 2009
A Gem Sparkles in Sellwood
It happened right in the middle of slurping a steaming bowl of noodle soup. Not that I couldn't have been anyplace doing just about anything, since the feeling comes over me all the time. It could be my friend Kathryn who simply must go to a particular gift shop tucked away in a downtown highrise. Or a bar that my brother (ha!) hadn't yet managed to find and blog about. But in this case I instantly knew I had to take my son to have a bowl of the steaming deliciousness.
In this case the must-share discovery was a little noodle shop in Sellwood where April Eklund (on right in photo at left) and her immensely talented mother, Cuong "Lucy" Eklund, have opened Jade Teahouse. Lucy bakes the bread for the banh mi sandwiches and makes the noodles for the udon and rice noodle soup fresh every morning. She also bakes all the picture-perfect desserts in the display case that look as though they've come straight out of a shop on the Ile Saint-Louis.
The Jade version of banh mi (right) is reason enough to go, with chewy, golden baguettes stuffed with thick slices of barbecued pork and the requisite pickled daikon and carrot with sprigs of cilantro. Need I mention that Lucy makes the sweetly tart pickles, too? And if pork doesn't ring your bell, they also have drunken chicken, tofu, turkey and Vietnamese meatball versions of these tasty sandwiches.
But the soups are what really shine here. We had the udon rice noodle soup with chicken and shrimp (left), the noodles thick and toothsome with plenty of chicken and large pink curled shrimp playing hide-and-seek in the broth, the crispy fried onions sprinkled on top that give an extra depth to the whole dish.
My wonton soup with spinach, pork and shrimp (top photo) blew me away with the tender, almost ethereal noodles enclosing a succulent bit of ground meat. The dumplings floated in the broth almost like some kind of sea creatures waiting to be brought to the surface. I've always wanted to try the Chinese specialty called xiaolongbao or soup dumpling which, when you bite into one, squirts out an incandescently flavorful broth surrounding its meaty center. Jade's wontons seem almost as luscious, and the baby spinach and those crispy onions make this an entirely satisfying meal.
So gather up your posse and head over to this little jewel. After all, what are friends for but to share with?
Details: Jade Teahouse & Patisserie, 7912 S.E. 13th Ave. 503-477-8985.