Dump Truck: Tasty Twists on Dumplings
SW Alder, between 10th and 11th, Portland, OR
One of my favourite food trucks in Portland is the cleverly named, Dump Truck. Painted bright yellow and fashioned like a Tonka dump truck with caution stripes and steel ledges used for condiments, it’s hard to miss this truck. It totally adds character, colour and flair to Portland’s Alder food cart pod. What totally sold me though was their bacon cheeseburger dumpling. I was standing in line as soon as I spied it on the menu.
We ordered the sampler so that we could try each dumpling. The dumplings really were made to order. We watched as the girls in the truck handmade the dumplings and placed them in big bamboo steamers for cooking. The only problem was the wait as it did take 10 to 15 minutes for our order to be ready. But it was worth the wait.
As soon as we were served up our pile of steaming hot dumplings, we went straight for the sauces. There was a bottle labeled ‘secret sauce,’ recommended for the bacon cheeseburger dumpling. We couldn’t resist but fill up a sauce container with this sauce even though, I strongly suspect it’s just a mix of vinegar, ketchup and mustard.
We could smell our bacon cheeseburger dumplings even before we tore apart our flimsy little wooden disposable chopsticks. The dumplings were so plump and fresh, we risked breaking them as we hungrily picked them up with our chopsticks.
Thankfully, the dumpling wrappings were strong and sturdy (and surprisingly thin and tender).
There were big chunks of bacon inside the bacon cheeseburger dumpling and the cheese oozed out with every bite. The burger meat was juicy and extremely flavourful. For a lack of better description, this really was like eating a bacon cheeseburger stuffed inside a dumpling. It was incredible. What a delicious play on a traditional dish.
On the more traditional front, the Dump Truck also features a dumpling named Mr. Ma’s Special: seasoned pork with green onions and ginger. The pork filling was just as juicy as the cheeseburger filling, the onions were fresh and flavourful. These little scrumptious dumplings reminded me most of the homemade dumplings my mom used to make.
We only ordered one of the Down 2 Earth dumplings, stuffed with portabella mushrooms, rice noodles and ginger. Somehow, even though the ingredients were so simple, the rice noodles really were infused with ginger flavour and the musky mushroom taste was less obtrusive than I had feared. The overall texture of the dumpling was appealing too, al dente rice noodles against the soft dumpling wrapping.
Our other savoury vegetarian dumpling was the potato curry: bright yellow and stuffed to the max with curried, soft and creamy potato. The curry was spicy and sweet and the potato was smooth and luscious on the roof of my mouth.
My second favourite dumpling was the dessert dumpling: packed with Oregon mixed berries, this little pocket was filled with seasonal local berries. The fruit’s deep purple and dark red colours can been seen through the dumpling wrapping and the sweet pastry was served with a squirt of whipped cream.
I fell in love with this dessert dumpling on my first bite. The berries weren’t too sweet, they were juicy and still had a bite to them. I enjoyed the soft and chewy dumpling wrapping as much as I enjoyed the sweet berries. This was such a cute and creative play on dumplings, the perfect little fusion food package.
I’ll admit that being of Asian descent, I am always skeptical about traditional Asian dishes being repackaged and sold back to me as ‘fusion’ at a premium price. But after tasting the dessert dumpling that featured local ingredients, I knew the Dump Truck was the real deal.
The Dump Truck was started by Reid Barrett and Julia Filip, they lived in Beijing together before moving to Portland. But Julia craved steamed dumplings so much that she started making them at home and steaming them in big bamboo steamers that she and Reid brought back from China. Local bars in Portland began asking Julia to make dumplings for their menus. Reid and Julia’s dumplings became such bestsellers that they decided to take the leap and open a food cart (page 119 Cartopia). Watch out for them on Eat St., the hit Food Network show was filming at the cart this past summer.
Portland is ranked by US News Travel as having the best street food around and you’ll see why when you visit the Dump Truck.