We were contacted by the Jade Tea House a couple of weeks ago. We’ve eaten there twice now and really enjoyed it both times. The Jade Tea House is on SE 13th in Sellwood (a few blocks from Picazzo’s), so it’s a little bit of a drive from our neighborhood.
Sienna and I both thought that the Jade Tea House would make for a great place to take a first date. The food is good, the menu is interesting, the restaurant has a bright and energetic vibe, and the people watching is excellent. Almost everything on the menu is gluten free or can be made gluten free. The food is a mixture of Vietnamese and Thai with some other Asian cuisines thrown in and baguette sandwiches. Before you get excited, I have to warn you that the baguettes are one of the things on their menu that aren’t gluten free. The other items with gluten are their wonton soup and steamed Hum Bao appetizer. Pretty much everything else is gluten-free, however.
Both times we went, the place was packed, and they seem to have a thriving take-out business going, too. For appetizers, they have items like Salad Rolls (Spring Rolls), Chicken Satay, Fried Coconut Encrusted Shrimp, and Fried Salt & Pepper Squid. For entrees, dishes like Sesame Beef, Yellow Chicken Curry, Garlic Lemongrass Chicken, and Stir Fried Green Beans. For desserts they have Black Rice Pudding, Sweet Rice & Mango, Frozen Yogurt, and Assorted Pastries.
The first time we went, we got the Fried Coconut Shrimp. These were served with a delicious Thai-style fish sauce.
Then the next time, we got some of the Fried Salt and Pepper Squid. When asked about their fryer, we were told that they don’t fry anything with gluten in it, so that’s good news. The Salt and Pepper Squid are the best gluten-free fried squid I’ve ever had. Our only complaint was that they were a little salty for our tastes. The Coconut Shrimp was really awesome, and perfectly done.
For entries, we tried the Yellow Curry Chicken and two specials which aren’t on the normal menu. We got a Fried Glass Noodle dish and a Mango Chicken dish. I’m used to Vietnamese cooking being very simple and wholesome, and that was the way these dishes were. The Yellow Curry Chicken was like a Thai Yellow Curry with chicken drumsticks, carrots, and chunks of potato in it. We both really enjoyed it. The glass noodles had a light garlic sauce with chicken, shrimp and vegetables. We enjoyed the dish, but ended up feeling like the noodles were overdone. The Mango Chicken comes with a savory brown sauce and vegetables. The slices of mango were perfectly ripe, and this ended up being my favorite dish from both nights. I hope they put it on the regular menu!
Chinese Donuts and…
If you ever find yourself wondering how much Sienna and I sacrifice to bring you the best restaurant reviews, look no further than this example. Since desserts are one of those things that can be kind of hard to get gluten free, we take notice when a restaurant has gluten free desserts, and for the sake of our readers, we often find ourselves with no choice but to eat dessert. Yes. We do this all for you. I’m a real fan of black rice pudding. In its most basic form, this is a pudding made from black rice, which is naturally sweet. Although it’s called “black rice” it’s actually more of a very dark purple. The black rice pudding was good, but we found the coconut milk sauce to be too sweet. The Chinese Donuts are hollow globes made of rice gluten. Inside each doughnut is a mixture of sweet bean paste and grated coconut. These were really wonderful. I found myself hoping that they start making lotus seed paste ones too!
We had very few complaints about our dining experience both nights. Our food came out promptly, and the people there were able to answer all our questions about gluten and their food. We wished that their wait staff was a little easier to get a hold of, and on one night our entrees made it to the table before the appetizer did. We barely noticed, however, because we were happy with our food and enjoying the atmosphere.
On a final note, as could be expected from a place that calls itself a tea house, they have fancy teas. We tried a pot of Oolong tea and were very pleased. The thing we liked most about the Jade Tea House is that it is a little different and fun. We really enjoyed the place and plan to go back very soon.
We want to know: Do you know of anywhere in Portland to get Chinese Donuts? Have you eaten at the Jade tea House? What did you think? Let us know!
Gluten-Free Safety Rating: Gluten-Free Friendly But Ask Questions
Times we have visited: 2 (So your experience may vary.)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same
Jade Tea House
7912 SE 13th Avenue / 503.477.8985