Amen to so much Ramen!
Portland’s rainy winter months conjure up cravings for meals such as soups and ramen, and Portland delivers the delicious stuff just about anywhere you point your chopsticks in town.
A Japanese dish that translates to “pulled noodles,” ramen typically consists of wheat or buckwheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth. It’s often flavored with soy sauce or miso, topped with sliced pork, nori (dried seaweed), scallions and more. Japan has its regional versions that vary in broth types, from pork bone broth to miso, and here in Portland, ramen houses range from traditional to fusion in their presentations, even catering to vegan and gluten-free eaters.
Selections around town are so numerous that one surefire way to enjoy lots of great ramen all at once is to check out the Whisky and Ramen Fest this Sunday (Jan. 19) at Leftbank Annex, presented by Willamette Week. Here, two of the hottest trends in food and drink bring six of Portland’s beloved ramen chefs to battle it out for the best ramen taster-Japanese whiskey cocktail pairing. Two seatings are available in this noon to 5 p.m. event for 21 and over only; $45. Tickets and details are here.
We’ve narrowed a few of our favorites to within about a mile of Hotel Eastlund for central, easy access. Feed those rainy day appetites!
Mirakutei – 536 E Burnside St.
Dig into the restaurant’s Sapporo style ramen, a milky white soup stock called “Paitan”, and curly medium-thick noodles. Paitan broth is made with pork and chicken bones, dried konbu, anchovy, yellow onion, scallions, carrots, and ginger roots. Opt for add-on toppings or keep it simple. Also find gobs of sushi and tempura served here.
Marukin – 609 SE Ankeny St., Ste A (two locations in Portland)
Scratch-made, slow-cooked, quality ingredients from Executive Chef Sakai brings ramen based on the Hakata style (from Kyushu) from this popular Japanese chain. Broth here is slow-cooked, with a creamy-like texture. In Portland, Marukin serves both the tonkotsu (pork broth) and a unique, thick and creamy chicken-based broth (paitan) with its homemade noodles. Slurping encouraged here!
Kayo’s Ramen Bar – 808 N Williams Ave., #124
Known as a cozy location to get some quality noodles, Kayo’s specializes in Assari-style ramen with clear and refined broths, made in-house daily with no MSG, additives or preservatives. Enjoy traditional ramen like Shoyu, Shio, Miso and TanTan (the most popular), along with unique, inspired signature ramens such as Curry, MaLa, Pineapple Ginger and Wasabi Smoked Salmon. Variety rules here.
Izakaya Kichinto – 102 NE Russell St.
If noodles with a side of ambience is the call, this contemporary Japanese spot hits the mark, offering ramen, sushi and rice dishes in a charming dining room with modern booths and fun, sunken tables. Six different noodle dishes offer versatile options for gluten-free eaters and vegetarians, one of which has no broth at all!
Boxer Ramen – 2605 E Burnside St (multiple Portland locations)
Talk about keeping it simple! The menu here is focused on beer, sake and four types of ramen: Tonkotsu-Shio, Spicy Red Miso, Shiitake Shoyu or Vegetarian Curry, all of which are priced under $15 with generous portions. The vegetarian curry ramen is extremely popular: a yellow curry coconut broth chock full of broccoli rabe, mushroom, corn, scallions and mayu.
Afuri Izakaya – 923 SE 7th Ave. (two Portland locations)
Self-described as a “hot spot featuring creative ramen, sushi and robata in a cool reclaimed warehouse space,” its signature Yuzu Shio Ramen is a light-colored broth built upon a reduction made from dried seafood, seaweed, an assortment of salty, umami ingredients, and citrus notes of yuzu. Try the Truffle Miso ramen ($16) with miso tare, mushroom tomato broth, mushroom mix, bean sprout, garlic chive, truffle oil. Umami city!
Whatever you choose, you’ll be sure to leave full and warm, knowing that Portland has enough ramen houses to easily make “noodling” a habit worth trying them all.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, a stay at our downtown Portland hotel means you’ll be close to the best destinations, restaurants, and things to do in Portland. The team at Hotel Eastlund looks forward to helping you enjoy your winter stay in our beautiful city.