Our Favorite Dumplings are Found Here

Dough Zone’s newest Oregon restaurant is a fun, family-friendly spot for discovering new favorites.

Courtesy of Denise Castañon

I felt like a parenting champ after my family’s visit to the new Dough Zone in the Clackamas Town Center. My kids actually tried new-to-them foods without a fuss (and liked them!) and we all had a really good time together.

The Portland metro’s newest Dough Zone is housed in the former California Pizza Kitchen space. The Chinese dumpling chain originated in Bellevue, Wash. and has outposts on Portland’s waterfront and in Beaverton, as well as in Washington, California and Texas. Upon entering the Clackamas location, we were able to get a table right away. The space is large and open, and we noticed plenty of high chairs available. Our friendly server asked if we had been in before. Since we hadn’t, he explained that we could mix our own dipping sauces using soy sauce, vinegar, grated fresh ginger and chili oil. My 9-year-old son, Cruz, loves dipping sauces and got right to work creating his perfect sauce with lots of ginger and a touch of heat from the chili oil. 

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We scanned the QR code to see the full menu description and to help us fill out the paper ordering form at our table. Dough Zone offers several styles of dumplings, buns, and vegetable and noodle dishes. We ordered the Q-BAO pan-fried pork buns ($9.95 for 4), pork xiao long bao soup dumplings ($9.40 for 8), pan-fried chicken potstickers ($7.30 for 6), pan-fried wontons with sweet spicy garlic sauce ($7.30 for 6), Dan Dan noodles ($7.90), and sweet and sour cucumbers ($7.30). Cruz said the kale with sweet spicy garlic dressing sounded good. Anytime one of my kids expresses even the slightest interest in a vegetable they’d normally refuse, I’m gonna order it. So we, of course, got the kale, too ($7.30). 

The cucumbers and kale were the first to come out. The cucumbers were cut in a spiral/accordion style and doused in a delicious dressing heavy on the sesame oil. I loved it. The kale was indeed spicy, Cruz tried it but thought it was a little too spicy. My husband really liked it though. Pro tip: Anything marked spicy is spicy. But as someone who likes medium heat, it was just the right amount of spice for me. The springy, spicy and rich Dan Dan noodles came out next. 

Courtesy of Denise Castañon

I was really excited for my kids to try the Q-BAO (pictured above). Both Cruz and my 11-year-old daughter, Adela, really like potstickers. But they’d resisted trying bao buns in the past even though I knew it was a food they’d love if they gave it a chance. They finally agreed to them, and did indeed love the steamed buns filled with savory-sweet pork. They were a hit with everyone actually. The potstickers and wontons came with crispy, lacy-looking bottoms and were also very tasty.

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But everyone agreed the xiao long bao were the best thing we tried. (And this was again something my kids had never eaten before!) Cruz was charmed by the fact that our chopsticks came with instructions for eating the soup dumplings. So we followed the directions: Pick up the dumpling carefully, put it on the spoon, bite or poke a hole in the dough, slurp out the soup, then eat the dumpling. The kids loved the whole process. “These are really fun to eat,” said Adela. My husband wished he could drink a whole bowl of the broth in the dumplings. We agreed next time we’d order even more soup dumplings.

“We need to bring Nana and Grandpa here,” said Cruz. This is the designation the kids give to the restaurants they hold in the highest regard — the ones they know their food-loving grandparents from California will appreciate when they are visiting us in Portland. I agreed. The whole experience was wonderful: delicious food at a surprisingly reasonable price; easy, relaxed atmosphere; and quick, friendly service. 

For even more kid-approved places to eat around Portland, click here!

Denise Castañon
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