For the past seven years, Frank Fong has been the Portland metro area's king of noodles—chubby, springy, chewy wonders he creates from wheat flour, eggs, water and one pair of hands. The western China native says his mom taught him how to hand-pull those noodles—working the dough, stretching it out over and over like an accordion player on speed—when he was just a kid. He pulled his tasty wares in a tiny Korean-Chinese kitchen in Beaverton called Du Kuh Bee until earlier this summer, when he parted ways with Bee's co-owner and opened Frank's Noodle House a few blocks away from Lloyd Center in a converted house on Northeast Broadway. The locale may have changed, but the noodles have not.
The fresh noodles (Fong or his wife Ying Jun Gao take an hour to make them by hand every single morning) are quick-boiled and then tossed into a hot wok with a variety of proteins—thick bits of pork belly or toothsome squid are my favorites—along with crisp bell peppers, cabbage, onions and a smoky Korean chile sauce ($7.95-$12.95 at dinner). Minutes later, they're on your plate; seconds later, in your gullet. Portions are big enough to share, especially since orders come with crunchy pickled daikon, kimchi and soup. Go ahead and spring for a plate of housemade steamed dumplings ($4.25), too. Packed with juicy, sesame-perfumed ground pork and tons of chives, they're so tender they make similar dishes around town taste like gummy hockey pucks.
Not everything is so pleasing: The Chinese herbal sliced beef is a pile of tough-to-chew chilled beef shank, cabbage and cucumber covered with a 2-inch mound of raw garlic—it almost seems like you should take it home and stir-fry it yourself rather than try to eat it as served. The Americanized Chinese specials, like broccoli beef and kung pao chicken, are a snooze. Plus, although the new dining room is roomy and kindly, Fong himself attends to the tables, the hidey-hole thrill of watching him and his helpers pull noodles three feet in front of your face like they did in the tight confines of Du Kuh Bee is sorely missed. The relatively spacious new kitchen, only visible through a cracked door behind the front counter, hides the magic.
But, really, you came to eat the noodles, not to ogle them. Crack open a super-sized bottle of icy cold Hite ($6.50) and just dig into that mess of gluten‑y magic in front of you. Oh, the chew.
- Order this: Dumplings ($4.25) and hand-pulled noodles with squid and spicy sauce ($12.95).
- Best deal: A lunchtime mountain of noodles with veggies is only $6.95.
- I’ll pass: The Korean barbecue beef and pork are savory, but the chicken gizzards ($9.95) taste like squeaky rubble.
Frank's Noodle House, 822 NE Broadway, 288-1007. Lunch and dinner 11 am-9:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-10 pm Friday-Saturday. $ Inexpensive.