Portland, Oregon restaurant serving “first generation American cuisine”

Xiao Ye opens Thursday in Hollywood

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new restaurant opening Thursday is bringing nostalgic bites, comfort and community to Northeast Portland.

Xiao Ye means more than “midnight snack” in Mandarin, says Jolyn Chen, general manager and co-owner of Xiao Ye. The name of the restaurant also evokes a dining experience surrounded by your favorite people.

“When we think about hospitality and the type of restaurants we’ve always wanted to open, we really thought about what that should look like, not necessarily the food first. Then we kind of decided, thinking about the concept, that, you know, one of our favorite dining experiences was not really in a restaurant per se, but more as an experience and that’s what Xiao Ye means,” Chen explains.

The dining experience inspired the name Xiao Ye, which is opening on the corner of Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 38th Street.

“It’s one of those words in Mandarin that means a little more of a feeling than an actual meal period or time. It’s like a meal time always enjoyed with your favorite people. It’s a very intimate dining experience. It’s always cozy, the food is very comforting. That’s the whole point,” Chen added.

She continued: “We felt like it was such a good representation of who we are as hospitality professionals and how we eat too. We’re not very formal people, but we have formal training and, you know, we bridge the gap of a comfortable hospitality experience, but at a higher level, it really feels like us.

Chen, who co-owns Xiao Ye with chef Louis Lin, serves what they call “first-generation American cuisine,” including tom yum shrimp cakes, glazed pork ssam and chrysanthemum ice cream.

  • Portland, Oregon restaurant serving “first generation American cuisine”

When conceptualizing their dishes, Chen and Lin wanted to break away from “old” food categories such as new American, eclectic or fusion.

“Calling it first-generation American food was very important to us because it was the truest thing in terms of a label, because everyone wants a label from us,” Chen explained. “We understand that labels help people understand who we are, which is why we are so decidedly a first-generation American food. We’re not Chinese food, we’re not Asian food, we’re not fusion.

Taking inspiration from the food they ate as children or while traveling, Lin added that “all of our food is nostalgic and reminiscent of certain things in our lives, and they are all driven by our own lived experiences.” »

Both men also draw on their experiences working in restaurants across the country. Both grew up in a suburb outside Los Angeles before Chen studied hospitality at Cal Poly Pomona and Lin studied at the Culinary Institiute of America.

Portland, Oregon restaurant serving “first generation American cuisine”
Xiao Ye co-owners Jolyn Chen and Louis Lin bring first-generation American food to Northeast Portland (courtesy of Carter Hiyama).

The two reconnected in Washington, D.C., where they both worked at Rose’s Luxury and two-Michelin-starred Pineapple and Pearls.

After working in Washington, Chen and Lin returned to Los Angeles where Chen studied interior design and worked for an English interior designer. The two then moved to the Pink City when Chen got a job with a French interior designer before deciding to open their own restaurant.

“It turned into a really personal project where we’re going to do more than just open a restaurant, we’re going to explore a little bit of this really intimate kind of dining that we loved and that dictated a lot of our lives and also who we are in terms of who we are as people,” Lin said.

Xiao Ye draws on Chen’s interior design experience and adds a European influence to the restaurant’s design.

“I learned so much about European design that it basically became an aesthetic that I kind of adopted and fell in love with and I always felt like that aesthetic was the most comfortable and really suitable for climates like Portland,” Chen explained. “We just wanted the whole space to feel like you were dining in our home, something very comfortable.”

She added: “I don’t want everything to look like a museum or be too precious to sit on or touch. So we have vintage chairs, things that are used, they’re not new, they’re not new.

  • Portland, Oregon restaurant serving “first generation American cuisine”
  • Portland, Oregon restaurant serving “first generation American cuisine”
  • Portland, Oregon restaurant serving “first generation American cuisine”

Xiao Ye also made Bon Appétit’s list of most anticipated restaurant openings over the summer.

“It was cool to see that our story resonated beyond Portland,” Lin said. “It was a little mind-boggling because we hadn’t done the traditional PR work. We didn’t introduce ourselves that way. Just letting people know who we are was cool.

Ahead of Thursday’s opening, Lin is looking forward to “this moment of service of being able to see people in the space,” he said, adding that “it’s going to be really exciting.”

Chen noted, “We’ve been here so long and all of a sudden we have staff and it’s so cool to see them here working, producing things that you’ve been working on for so long and your ideas are taking off.” life thanks to them.”

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