Master Kong’s: Where even the pickiest eaters find comfort food

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Master Kong's provides the perfect comfort food combo that even the least adventurous foodie will enjoy. Photos by Ethan Rogers.

I’m not the most adventurous when it comes to food; in fact, that has been a complaint from just about every friend I’ve ever had. Just to get me in the door of a restaurant I’ve never been to, it has to have at least one thing on the menu that I know I like and is incredibly difficult to screw up.

In the case of Master Kong’s newly opened second location, that one thing was chicken dumplings – not only did they not screw it up, they nailed it.

Located on 32nd Avenue just off Hawthorne Boulevard, the location is reminiscent of the Waffle Window. Inside were only a few people and after ordering from a touchscreen menu, we were able to get a seat in the window.

It is perhaps here that I should alert you that Master Kong provides hot tea and water free of charge, in case you don’t want to order a $2 soda or any of the sake or beer. We weren’t told about the free tea and water until after we ordered and could have saved 4 bucks had we known.

I ordered the chicken dumplings and was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful they were, reminding me of the paper chicken I used to get at the now closed Yen Ching restaurant in Southern California where my family spent many a birthday and New Year’s Eve. It was like finding a comfort food I’d almost forgotten.

Then I got a little adventurous and ordered something I’d never had before but which blended elements I knew I liked – the Beef Brisket Noodle Soup. 

Being a lover of brisket and noodles, I threw caution to the wind and gave it a shot.  And I am so glad I did. The soup was beefy but not overwhelming. The noodles didn’t disappoint either, being neither undercooked nor overcooked. And the brisket, oh, the brisket – melt in your mouth perfection.

Master Kong lets you double the meat and/or the noodles in their dishes so we were able to share a single bowl which kept the overall cost of the meal lower than ordering two separate dishes would have been.
My partner in crime on this little expedition got the steamed buns. Since I’m generally not a pork eater I didn’t indulge, but she assured me they were well worth the cost. They arrived in a bamboo steamer which I found aesthetically pleasing if nothing else.

I also foolishly and unnecessarily ordered steamed rice, but with the noodles, dumplings and soup, I didn’t need it.

By the time we had finished eating there was a line out the door, so I would recommend getting there after the lunch rush but before the dinner crowd or you could end up with a significant wait because the food is that good. You could also opt to get your meal delivered or order it for pick-up. No less than four people picked up food in the half hour or so we were there.

All in the meal cost about $35 with each dish in the $10 range, and all of it well worth the price. I had no complaints, though my meal mate’s one complaint was that they didn’t have boba tea but I didn’t find the lack of it to be disconcerting. Besides, there’s a boba place across the street at the food carts if you need it that bad.

All in all, I highly recommend Master Kong’s new Hawthorne location and will definitely be putting it on my list of places I can go without having to worry about what I’ll be able to eat.

 Master Kong’s new location at 1522 S.E. 32nd Ave. in Portland is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Find them online at

Ethan M. Rogers