The other day, after a trip to the library and a few hours in a coffee shop attempting to plan our trip to SE Asia (we’ve gotten a little further, at this point, and have narrowed it down to northern Vietnam, and have even booked tickets), Jonah and I were hungry. Very very hungry. We were near the library in downtown Portland, and needed something relatively quick and relatively cheap and completely delicious. It was a cold sunny day, and Jonah wanted pho. I started thinking noodle soup, and Boxer Ramen popped into my head.
It’s not pho, but it is really good ramen. The restaurant is inside the New Union way shopping arcade, so it’s pretty much what one would call a hole in the wall. A few larger tables, a few deuces, and a bar, all with stools, line the brightly colored space. And there are 4 options (well, 6, if you count the sides). Sometimes I hate when there are so few options – I feel like I don’t really have any choice at all. But here, it seems to work. There’s the standard, the spicy, the mushroom, and the vegetarian curry. Jonah went for the spicy red miso, and I went for the standard tonkatsu-shio. We decided to skip the sides, though I have heard good things about the okonomiyaki tots.
The food came within about 5 minutes, and we immediately started slurping down our noodles and broth. The soup was rich and warm, and so perfectly what we both wanted. The ramen noodles were really light and tender – not as stiff as some I’ve had in the past. The broth was perfectly savory, a tiny bit almost creamy, and felt perfectly viscous, not too thin, but not too thick. There was a delicious slab of pork belly floating in the soup, which was a nice textural addition, as well as lots of green onion.
As far as ramen in Portland goes, this place is definitely the tops. I can imagine if I worked downtown, this would be a go to lunch spot (though my guess is that there’s a line at lunch time), and it makes a great pre-Living Room dinner too. I can’t wait to go back.