Wu's  Open  Kitchen                   
                                                        Specializing in Chinese Szechuan & Hunan Cuisine

Chef puts his skills on display in Tualatin

An exhibition kitchen is the centerpiece of Wu’s open Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant that’s a family affair

          “We really wanted this to be different and elegant.”

                                                               Judy Chang Ransom,

                                                          Co-owner of Wu’s Open Kitchen         

 By JOHN FOYSTON                                  

Correspondent, The Oregonian          

    TUALATIN – The controlled bustle in the kitchen of Wu’s Open Kitchen restaurant is fascinating enough to make a diner ignore his plate of General Tso’s Chicken. 

    And that’s no small feat, because chef Jimmy Wu’s version of the golden crispy chicken dish is just about perfect. 

   “That’s probably everybody’s favorite,” says Judy Chang Ransom, a co-owner of the restaurant.  “People tell us that they’ve tried it at other restaurants and it never tastes the same as here.” 

    She and her sister Nancy Wu and brother-in-law Jimmy Wu opened the restaurant at 17773 S.W. Boones Ferry Road late last December. It’s the first time all three have joined together in a restaurant, but by no means their first restaurant experience. 

    Ransom previously owned the Suzie Wong’s in Portland’s Chinatown and the Wu’s owned the Canyon Pearl in West Slope.  Jimmy Wu, 37, has been a chef for 18 years, working in restaurants in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Dallas, so there’s a lot more than just General Tso’s Chicken on the menu.  

    It’s the effortless rhythm born of years of experience that might distract the diner.  Working in the gleaming, glass-enclosed kitchen, Wu displays his considerable talents as he hustles through a stack of lunch orders for the crowded dining room. 

    Standing before a pair of cast-iron woks on a gas grill, Wu takes plates of freshly chopped ingredients assembled by sous chef Tom Wang.  He slides chunks of meat into the 3-foot-wide wok full of boiling oil, scooping them out after a minute with a stainless steel paddle and letting them drain. 

    He turns up the gas under the center wok and adds chopped vegetables and the cooked meat, and adds chilies, sauces and herbs required for each dish, deftly dipping his spatula in to various containers of ingredients.  He quickly stir-fries the food over the gas flame and slides it onto a platter.  Cleaning his wok, he’s ready for the next order. 

    The exhibition kitchen is the centerpiece of Wu’s.  Ransom says it required a lot of extra stainless steel and not a little bravery to open the kitchen to all.  

     “People sometimes worry,” she says “that the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant may not be that clean, but they can see that ours is kept spotless.  The children just love to watch the cooking, and adults seem to like it, too.”  

     People definitely seem to like this restaurant.  On a recent unremarkable Wednesday, every one of 90 seats was taken by noon, and to-go orders had been going out the door steadily. 

     The muted, rich greens, purple and golds of the wallpaper and carpet carry no hint of the erstwhile video store.   Nor do they remind you of the stereotype Chinese restaurant full of red and black and swinging gold lanterns. 

     Even the silent and efficient waiters play their part – they all were starched white shirts, black slacks with cummerbunds and bow ties. 

     And they’re all family – relatives in –laws, just like the kitchen staff.  In fact, Ransom’s husband, John, is one of the few family members who don’t actually work in the restaurant.     

     “He’s got a law firm in Portland,” Ransom says. “He’s our attorney.”               


Readers’ Raves

Wu’s open Kitchen

17773 S.W. Boones Ferry Road, Lake Oswego (636-8899)

We can’t praise this restaurant enough – it deserves public mention.  Every single visit is a great pleasure.  From the first time, they remembered us and what we ate!  They’re so kindly and give immaculate service.  The food is perfect, exquisite.  Amazingly low prices, yet the chefs deserve to be millionaires.  We’ve told them we’d even move in to live if we could!

                                                                            -Barbara Dingwall, Lake Oswego

Is there a great restaurant find in your neighborhood?  Tell us briefly what makes it special.  Write to “Readers’ Raves,” The Oregonian, 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, Ore. 97201.  Include your name, address and phone number for verification.  “Readers’ Raves” appears in the Menus and Venues column on each Wednesday’s Entertainment Page in the Living section.

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