When I first saw that the house fried rice at Zen Chinese Bistro was $20, I thought that was a little pricey.

But when I saw that the dish had several large shrimp in it and that it was large enough to feed my family twice, I realized it was a good deal.

In fact, all the dishes my family and I had from Zen Chinese Bistro were a lot of food for the money. We bought three appetizers and two main dishes – to feed three people – and had enough left over for dinner the next night.

The restaurant, on Danforth Street just on the edge of the Old Port, serves up lots of American Chinese restaurant staples, from fried rice, sesame chicken and lo mein to egg rolls, General Tso’s chicken and wonton soup.

But the menu also includes rice noodle dishes, udon noodles, moo shi, jumbo shrimp with lobster sauce, and dozens of dishes featuring pork, chicken, beef and duck, as well as a variety of sauces.

For a Friday night dinner recently, my family and I ordered pan-fried pork dumplings ($8), shrimp shui mai ($8) and chicken teriyaki ($14) off the appetizers’ menu. We also ordered house fried rice ($20) and pork lo mein ($17).


House fried rice at Zen Chinese Bistro in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

There were about six to eight of the dumplings and shui mai and about the same number of chicken teriyaki skewers. Because of our hunger and the fact that the food smelled so good, we ate some first before counting pieces, so that’s why the number is not exact.

The shui mai were a dark gold color, a little crisp, and very tasty. The pork dumplings were a generous size and tasty, with a hint of scallion or little bit of spice. The chicken was tender, and again, the pieces were not small.

The fried rice had a nice light flavor with strips of chicken, eggs and veggies. The shrimp was a bonus. The lo mein had smoky flavor and featured strips of pork, carrots and mushroom.

Zen Chinese Bistro also has a very simple and thorough online ordering system, which I love, especially for takeout. I put in our order around 5:30 p.m. and selected a pickup time of 6:15 p.m. I paid online, and when I got there, my order was bagged and waiting for me. Though I got takeout, the place has plenty of seating and a bar.

The menu is also quite extensive. Some of the other appetizers include edamame, chicken wings, crab Rangoon and seaweed salad. Some of the other main dishes that caught my eye were udon noodles with jumbo shrimp, beef with Chinese bok choy, scallops with snow pea pods and duck with ginger and scallions.

Pork lo mein Zen Chinese Bistro in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

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