Jonah and I have been on the hunt for good ramen in Portland for at least a year now. After being unimpressed by the bland broth at Wafu, and overwhelmed by the oversalting at Biwa, there was (to my knowledge) one place left to try: Boke Bowl. We went for the first time a few months ago, and I loved it. But we went for an early dinner before a late work meeting a couple of weeks ago, and I thought to myself, I’ve got to tell the people about this delicious food! So here I am, telling you about it.
The restaurant is down on the East waterfront on Water Ave. Walk in and you’ll find a neat hanging menu on the wall, a counter where you order (beware, the wait can sometimes be long as there’s only one register) and then kind of a chic looking cafeteria space. Clean white walls, orange accents and art, sleek IKEA furniture, and long wooden communal tables. Order your food at the counter, take your number, and find a seat. Your number (on a little piece of wood) fits into a groove in the middle of the table, right next to the basket of condiments: hot sauce? Check. Sesame seeds? Check. Soy sauce? Check. Seriously, everything I could’ve wanted to top my ramen with was right there.
Onto the food. At this point, I’ve ordered: Fried Chicken Steam Buns, Pork Belly Steam Buns, the Chicken Rice Bowl, and the Caramelized Fennel Ramen (with Fried Chicken added). Everything has been awesome. Probably my favorite was the Pork Belly Steam Buns. I have a serious weakness for pork belly, and the sauce on top was an awesome and flavorful addition.
The caramelized fennel ramen was delicious. In both their rice bowl and ramen bowls, there are all these little pockets of toppings. In the middle sits your rice or your noodles and broth, with whatever additions you’ve ordered, and then around the edge are little piles of mustard, squash, pickled shiitakes (possibly my favorite thing at the restaurant), ginger… It’s really fun, and it means you get to really build each bite, which I always enjoy doing. The ramen was flavorful without being overpowering or over-seasoned, which is something we’ve encountered. It was playful, but just plain good. I definitely recommend!