When you drive into the parking lot of Kenny's Noodle House, a tiny pink bungalow on Powell just off 82nd Avenue, you might think you've stumbled onto one of the best-kept secrets in Portland. But you'd be wrong. If you speak Cantonese, this place is flat-out famous.
If Wong's King is Chinatown's Tin Shed brunch, Kenny's is Broder—with Hong Kong noodles and congee so beloved the spot even gets visits from wealthy couples in town from Shanghai. You find packed tables with families hunched over menus, warm tea in plastic cups and huge bowls of noodle soup and congee, an impossibly comforting rice porridge that might come with brisket, dried oyster, or pork belly in its thick, creamy bowl.
It's a no-frills environment save for the massive script on the back wall—with white tile floors, tables barely big enough for the food, and a plethora of those Japanese beckoning cats.
For pages, the menu offers more variations of noodle soup than you knew could exist, before doing the same for congee. Tucked away are a dozen sprigs of succulent Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce ($4.95), easily enough to feed four. They're so vibrantly green you could swear they're undercooked, until you bite in and discover they're perfect, just at the edge of crisp.
The Chinese doughnuts ($1.95 for a tray) are like an elephant ear without the sugar and cinnamon, a greasy, savory treat that actually pairs well between bites of greens and meat. The wonton soup, meanwhile, is a bowl of steaming hot comfort, with tiny noodles that pack their own breadlike taste, and three huge wontons, which explode with flavor and heat with the slice of a chopstick.
Eat: Oyster-sauced Chinese broccoli ($4.95) and the signature wonton noodle soup ($6.15).
Drink: There's nothing alcoholic here, so just settle into the warm tea served in plastic cups.
Most popular dish: Wonton noodle soup
Noise level: 90/100
Expected wait: Go in the afternoon and it's no wait at all. In the morning—family prime time—don't even think about arriving in a group larger than two or you'll wait an hour.
Who you'll eat with: East Asian families, both large and small. Cleveland High kids at weekday lunch.
Year opened: 2008
8305 SE Powell Blvd., 503-771-6868. 9:30 am-9 pm daily. $