Photos by Aaron Lee

I’ve eaten at Chin’s Kitchen more times than I should have over the last decade, considering the sad state of its cuisine. But I’m often in the Hollywood District; I love Chinese food of all stripes, and have long been drawn to the fabulous retro neon sign on the front, featuring Mr. Chin eating from a bowl like a Route 66 sign on the Silk Road.

After numerous sad plates of generic fried shrimp and twice-cooked pork not worth a second look, I’d walked away for good (or so I thought). But in late July, Ted Perkins from the Hollywood Star dropped the news that Chin’s Kitchen had new owners and was up to something special.

Soon after, the new version of this 1949 Portland classic was overrun, and sisters Chang Feng (Wendy) and Change (Cindy) Li were selling out of their Northeastern Chinese dishes for days on end. Portland, it seems, is hungry for Dongbei cuisine, featuring foods that blend the anise and cumin of China with the fermentation and gut-fortifying influence from Russia.

In LA, there are enough Dongbei-specific restaurants to prompt Top 10 lists, but Chin’s is seemingly the only one in Portland, leaving the Li sisters to be the standard bearers of their fare. After (mostly) adjusting for their newfound popularity, they’re doing just that.

No visit is worth it without at least one selection from the seven varieties of handmade dumplings (10 for $10.95 to $11.95). Doughier than you’d expect, they’re more like a pelmeni quilt wrapped around dim sum, pork with seafood, leek, sauerkraut or cabbage. Like all dumplings made with care, they are deeply satisfying. I’m certain no matter how many you order, they will all be consumed in one sitting, between sips of Tsingtao and dunks in their scarlet dipping sauce.

You’ll see more potatoes than rice in Northeastern Chinese cooking, and pickling for long winters is the norm. This is on beautiful display with the stewed pork with sauerkraut, a bowl brimming with bountiful pieces of belly, liver, and rib. It reminds me of my Polish grandmother’s spare ribs with sauerkraut, made heartier with vermicelli noodles that soak up the porky broth and make the leftovers even better overnight. This region isn’t known for its use of spice, but an added dash of hot sauce took it to the next level.

Never before had I seen la pi, a jelly-like sheet of noodles over a rainbow of vegetables—on the menu here as Handmade Clear Noodles Cold Plate, but also translated on some menus as Sheet Teny of Green Beans. No matter the name, the mung bean noodle is a thick, chewy test of your chopstick skills, with red chilis and a tart vinegar sauce with green beans, shredded carrot, crunchy peanuts, and other market vegetables. Order it to balance those homier dishes.

A bowl of beef noodle soup ($11.95) had perfectly chewy noodles stretched by hand, with a broth deeply infused with the bones and augmented with crisp bok choy. Marinated pork ribs ($14.95) are soy-spiked and ultimately one of the duller items we tried—and even those were still gobbled down.

While you should be there for the Dongbei, Chin’s has retained a few Americanized options, including the always-good General Tso’s chicken. Really, order what you want—just make sure you try those dumplings.


Tues-Sun: noon-3 pm; 5-9 pm. Takeout available or order online from the restaurant’s Yelp page. Don’t try their social media or website for info; they’re from the previous owners. Check out Go Fund Me to help restore the historic sign.