Tag: Ramen

Restaurant Review: Boxer Ramen

Boxer Ramen, PDX // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

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.

Boxer Ramen, PDX // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

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.

Boxer Ramen, PDX // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

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.

Restaurant Review: Boke Bowl

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.

Boke Bowl Review by Serious Crust

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.

Boke Bowl Review by Serious Crust

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.

Boke Bowl Review by Serious Crust

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!

Restaurant Review: Biwa (and Ramen!)

This past Monday night, Jonah and I decided to head out into the city to get some food. We’ve both had a cold for a little while now, so we were riding the wave of Asian soup. Saturday night we went to Thai Peacock (a funny little Thai place by Powell’s with the best Tom Ka Gai I’ve ever had), and Sunday night we made pho (and decided the pho at Mekong, the place a block from our house, is superior to anything we could ever make ourselves). I’d read in the Portland Monthly Best Restaurant edition that Biwa is the place to go for ramen, and had been wanting to try it since.

Lucky for us, because it was a Monday night, it wasn’t packed. That being said, there were a couple large parties waiting for tables, and Jonah and I opted to eat at the bar to avoid waiting because we were super hungry. We pretty quickly decided on what to order, choosing to stick with familiar dishes since we were both sick and not feeling terribly adventurous. Jonah got a housemade ginger soda (which I was jealous of and of which I probably drank at least half).

I must say, that while ordering, I noticed that the restaurant has a little bit of a boys’ club vibe. All the cooks and all but two waiters were men, and I felt a little funny being a girl. The men were all very stereotypically “Portland”: facial hair, flannel shirts, skinny jeans, tattoos. I felt a little out of my element, which was odd to me. That being said, our waiter was very nice, though quick and with a very dry sense of humour (or maybe he was being serious… I couldn’t really tell).

We ordered the cucumber sunomono (vinegared cucumber salad with shrimp and seaweed), agedashi tofu (my favorite Japanese dish, fried tofu in broth), and of course, a bowl of ramen.

Ramen at Biwa
A beautiful bowl of delicious Biwa ramen.

The cucumber salad was delicious. Thinly sliced cucumbers with seaweed doused in delicious vinegar with huge juicy shrimp… Oh my goodness. I could have eaten a few of those and gone home happy. It was light and refreshing. I want to go back on a hot summer’s day and eat that dish. The agedashi tofu was also magnificent. Much lighter than most of the agedashi tofu I’ve had before: the tofu was more delicate, the batter was much lighter, and the broth tasted less “packaged,” if that makes sense. It was unique and delicious. I love soaking the crispy fried tofu in the broth and letting it soak up the flavor. Yum.

Now onto the ramen. It was delicious. The noodles were amazing, just the right texture, and very fresh tasting. The meat was some thinly sliced pork and was actually largely fat, which sometimes throws me off. But this fat had a wonderful texture that just fell apart in your mouth and tasted so rich and delicious. One thing I wasn’t crazy about, which I wanted to be crazy about, was the egg. The shoyu egg, which I think means they’ve been soft or hard boiled and then cooked in soy sauce, was a little…sweet? I’m not really sure what the taste was. Perhaps it’s just that I wasn’t used to the preparation of it, but I wasn’t a crazy big fan. The broth of the soup was good, but about halfway through the bowl, both Jonah and I were chugging our water because it was so salty. It was so salty that we almost asked our waiter if it was supposed to be like that or if it was over-seasoned or something. I can appreciate some salt as much as the next girl, but it was pretty extreme. But still delicious. Just… in smaller doses.

Overall, I was happy with our meal at Biwa. Next time I want to be a little more adventurous and also want to try their other noodle soup (udon. yum.). The atmosphere was nice, and the food was delicious, particularly the small plates. I would definitely recommend it for a diner who is interested in more traditional Asian cuisine with a touch of flare.