In the previous edition of Takeout Club, we addressed some cookies I thought you should eat with your lover (or keep all for yourself). But this year, Valentine's Day actually falls on a Sunday so—in addition to sweets—you'll want to get perfectly romantic (or recover from romance) with some weekend dim sum.
At the risk of groaning eye rolls from everyone who already knows about dim sum, the word loosely describes small portions of various Chinese dishes served in the afternoon. The practice is thought to have originated as snacks that travelers ate in tea shops. But by this point, dim sum is generally a brunch meal involving portions of two-to-three items, like dumplings, steamed buns with filling, meat and rice wrapped in lotus leaves, cakes made of spicy radish, and so much more!
Two of Portland's favorite dim sum spots—HK Cafe and Pure Spice—have been offering takeout dim sum since the summer and now they're available on many of the delivery apps as well.
A moment of nostalgia, please. When you enter HK Cafe to pick up your to-go dim sum, you'll taste fleeting desire at the sight of their massive dining room filled with large, welcoming round tables and sunny, window-side four tops.
Remember the days of trying to decline more dim sum dishes to your already overwhelmed table? The cart purveyors forcefully handing out basked custard buns even as delicious glutinous radish cake steadily expanded in your belly? BUT THIS IS HOW WE LIVE (for now). And HK Cafe's to-go dim sum presents a feast of tiny white cardboard boxes with steamy treasures inside.
HK Cafe's har gow is still as masterwork of pink shrimp—practically glowing behind translucent, pleated rice paper. Their steamed barbecue pork buns are perfect fluffy clouds full of juicy meat. Some items, which might have once arrived in small portions at your table, are now only available at meal sizes, like the garlic bok choi. But greens are a difficult thing to keep ready throughout the day, and HK Cafe's dim sum menu is ready and waiting for your order every day of the week, from open to close.
HK Cafe, 4410 SE 82nd, 503-771-8866, hkcafetogo.com
Nestled in the corner of a shopping plaza off SE Division, Pure Spice's interior has morphed into a full takeout restaurant, with a sturdy plexiglass barrier inside and the dining areas hidden from view. There's a request to limit the number of people indoors, so you may as well ogle the hanging barbecue and impulse snacks on-hand from the outside until your order is ready. They also offer dim sum any day of the week, but the items cost a few dollars more after 3:30 pm.
Pure Spice delivers a lovely and varied dim sum with dishes like stuffed peppers, pumpkin pancakes, and spicy radish cake. Stacked up against HK Cafe, we slightly preferred their shiu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings) due to the plumpness of the shrimp inside.
Their sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves were perfectly steamed and delightfully fragrant, but the pork sausage filling was a little sweet and needed a salty pairing—we made due with soy sauce. The pig stomach with pickle stood out as a favorite for the tender and plentiful portions of soft pork belly—we devoured it competitively, though there was more than enough for two.
Pure Spice, 2446 SE 87th, (503) 772-1808, purespicerestaurant.com