In 2014, Jason and Nancy Zhai opened a Chinese restaurant in a Bellevue, Washington strip mall, with a menu of dumplings, bao, and noodles. Within a matter of months, it began to accrue massive lines and rake in positive reviews, expanding rapidly throughout the greater Seattle area. Now, Dough Zone has opened two locations in California and seven in Washington (with one on the way), and the Zhais aren’t done: In 2022, Dough Zone will open a shiny new locale in downtown Portland.
Dough Zone Portland will be the restaurant’s largest location, a whopping 7,657-square-foot restaurant in the former River Space event venue. There, Portlanders will find some of the Zhai family’s greatest hits: plump xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, filled with Berkshire-Duroc ground pork and Pacific crab; sheng jian bao, little steamed-then-pan-fried buns filled with pork; noodles slick with chile oil or braised beef. If it isn’t obvious from the name, Dough Zone’s best dishes often rely on dough or batter, whether it’s a bao bun filled with spicy beef, wontons in chile oil, or a mango-pancake crepe dusted with powdered sugar. However, other dough-less dishes — like chewy marinated pig’s ears, sweet-and-sour cucumbers, and braised eggs — also appear on the Dough Zone menu.
The incoming Dough Zone location will take some time to update, though the marketing team says the Portland location is going for a “stylish, modern Chinese” aesthetic. The building is also just off the South Waterfront, which would make it one of the only restaurants like it in the area. Dough Zone is expected to open in the spring at 1910 SW River Drive.
• Dough Zone [Official]
• Seattle Darling Dough Zone Dumpling House Is Ready for More [ESEA]
• How Dough Zone Beats Din Tai Fung at Dumplings [ESEA]