My first installment in what I hope will lead me on an odessey through the ramen world of Portland. After our adventures in Malaysia and Southeast Asia I am on a hunt for a great bowl of ramen in PDX. I know that I will never get it at the amazing prices we found in KL (Kuala Lumpur), but I know there has got to be great ramen here in town.
I kicked off things last week on my Instagram account at House of Ramen.
The bowl arrived piping hot and loaded with color. It took a great picture. The House of Ramen's menu follows the 'subway model' in that you get to build your bowl. First you choose the broth, then the noodle, meat, and finally veggies. Of course there are standard additions to each bowl, such as the pickled ginger. I ordered the standard bowl and waited patiently. Let's just say it photographed well and was a good kick-off to my quest.
Today's ramen adventure has taken me (and the family) to Boxer Ramen's outpost on the edge of the Pearl District. A super cool enclave of eclectic shops just across the street from the best, and biggest independentantly owned book seller in the US, Powell's Books. As we sauntered past the shops the smell of leather filled the air. I wasn't sure if we were even in the right place? I didn't smell the rich broth. Were they closed? Can't be.
Nope. There are people in there. A cool brightly painted galley of a shop with displays of sake, beer and soda and shelves of pantry ingredients on the walls. Paintings of quintessential Asian cartoon characters eating soup, slurping noodles and poking at fish. And the thumping of a great beat from the sound system. This place had cool factor.
A simple menu. Perfect! Only 4 ramen to choose from and side dishes to experiencetoo. Jonah and I ordered the Tonkotsu-Shio, Dyann got the Spicy Red Miso and Lexi went with the Shiitake-Shoyu.
No takers on the Vegetarian Curry this time.
An order of Potstickers for Bela, Okonomiyaki Tots, a couple of hard ciders, a soda and we were set.
Bring on the yumminess!
The Okonomiyaki Tots came to the table and I was impressed...Everyone else was a little apprehensive. A mound of golden fried tater tots drizzled with creamy spicy sauce (aka secret sauce), tonkatsu sauce, bonito flakes, togarashi and nori. Between the heat rising from the freshly fried tots and the slight breeze from the AC above, the dish came out looking alive. The bonito undulating slightly like a ghost snake. It was cool. And quite addicting!
On with our quest.
Bring on the ramen.
Steaming bowls of soup and noodles arrive in unison laid down in front of us. Chopsticks disseminated and it was time to slurp.
The noodles were perfect, light, but firm, and long. A single soft boiled egg gently nestled into the noodles against the side of the bowl and large slabs of delicious pork belly resting on top waiting to be devoured.
Now. It was good.
I liked it.
And had I not be on a quest to find the perfect ramen that mirrored the bowls of savory broth and noodles from Malaysia, this bowl would have been perfect.
In all it's glory, it just needed a little something. The broth lacked the savory backbone that I was looking for. The flavor and body that can only be achieved through a long, long cook of bones and vegetables, spices and herbs.
I give it 🍜🍜🍜 out of 5.
Thanks Boxer Ramen for a great bowl of noodles and a super cool place to hang out and slurp.
Now, where should I go next week. Come on guys. Tell me where you think is the best ramen in town. Send me an email.
Post a comment.
Help me find the best ramen in PDX.