Steps away from the food cart-turned-restaurant Nong’s Khao Man Gai, Marukin Ramen is giving Portland’s ramen scene a run for its money. Elegantly unpretentious, this shared-table Tokyo-style restaurant on the corner of SE Ankeny St has had a line out the door since its opening day on March 18th, and it’s easy to see why.
Three interchanging bowls of ramen are offered daily, each for $10. One option is always vegan, while the others are often variations of Hakata-style ramen (a creamy chicken-based broth) or Tonkotsu (traditional pork-based broth). All are served with a generous portion of perfectly chewy noodles, made in-house under the watchful care of executive chef Masaji Sakai and head chef Mayumi Hijikata.
This is the first Marukin shop to open in the United States out of the chain’s 21-year run. Based out of Tokyo, Marukin has nine restaurants in Japan, with a second Portland location already on the way in downtown’s new Pine Street Market, opening May 1.
Their US flagship shop on Ankeny Street, despite the line extending out the door, is well-spaced and unashamedly sophisticated. With jewel-toned red walls and gorgeous dark wooden tables made from materials rescued during renovations in the Pine Street Market building, the décor sets the stage. The ramen, of course, is the star, leaving the kitchen with all the speed, grace and beauty of a ballet.
Although the ramen itself changes frequently, all the ingredients are gems of their own, each element is sustainably and responsibly sourced. Creamy, rich broths compliment the fresh-daily noodles offering the perfect bite. A soft-boiled egg with a molten yellow center, deep green spinach, and a pile of sprouts, onion and leeks complete the look, making each bowl perfect for braggingly instagramming photos with the #marukinramen hashtag.
And the side dishes are equally worth getting worked up about. The pan fried Gyoza, stuffed generously with Carlton Farms pork, is served with Marukin’s signature creamy chicken based ramen broth for your dipping pleasure. Anything Karaage style is dynamite and they nail it with both their fried chicken and tiger shrimp. The curry rice bowl is unassumingly delicious, with tender chunks of shredded pork marinated in a subtly spicy sauce and served over rice with a poached egg.
Marukin coming to town is great news for Portland’s ramen lovers. Slinging bowls at a fair ten bucks a pop, and conveniently located close-in on both sides of the river, there’s no excuse not to stop by and give a warm welcome to the city’s newest purveyors of authentic Japanese ramen.
609 SE Ankeny, Suite A
Open 11am-9pm Daily
126 SW 2nd Ave.