Today marks the expanded soft opening of Marukin Ramen, at least at their initial location at 609 SE Ankeny. A second location is in the works at Pine Street Market. For their soft opening so far they’ve only been doing lunch service with one ramen type, but starting today their hours are 11AM – 3PM Monday-Friday and 3PM – 9PM Saturday-Sunday and they will offer a few select ramen choices each day. You can see the selection each day on their website. Then, on April 1st is their official opening to expand their hours and offer the full menu.
Marukin Ramen is a ramen chain in Japan, and this is their first US location . They have even imported from Japan their chef and a few staff to ensure they are authentic. Marukin Ramen’s location at 609 SE Ankeny includes roll up garage door and lots of windows to let in the light.
All the ramen utilizes their homemade ramen noodles that are made fresh every day and that are in the Hakata style, which are thin and long. Hakata is in Fukuoka, Japan – and ramen Hakata style is one of the 3 most popular types of ramen (the big three styles are Tokyo, Sapporo and Hakata ramen).
At Marukin you can choose from among
- Tokyo Shoyu, clear broth made with chicken and Carlton Farms pork bones with shoyu (a special soy sauce). Topped with greens, menma-seasoned bamboo shoots, chashu roasted pork, roasted onions, leeks, green onions, soft boiled egg, nori seaweed. For someone who can have meat, this is probably the lightest broth – the only one lighter is the vegan one (#6 on this list). Shoyu is the most popular and common ramen type.
- Marukin Paitan, the famous Marukin broth uses a unique, rich, creamy chicken based broth also known as paitan. Then for your Marukin ramen flavor (ramen = broth + flavor seasoning), additionally you must choose either shio (salt) or shoyu. Topped with greens, menma-seasoned bamboo shoots, chashu roasted pork, leeks, green onions, soft boiled egg, nori seaweed. I love how creamy this is and it’s one of my favorites in the line up.
- Tonkotsu Shoyu is a creamy Carlton Farms pork bone based soup flavored with shoyu. Tonkotsu involves boiling the pork bones for a really long time to extract all the fatty richness, and it’s very common to see creamy tonkotsu pork broths flavored with shoyu. Topped with greens, menma-seasoned bamboo shoots, chashu roasted pork, leeks, green onions, soft boiled egg, nori seaweed. Hakata style ramen usually is a combo of the Hakata style noodles made and served here with Tonkotsu broth.
- Marukin Tonkotsu Red is a spicy version of the Marukin ramen (#2 above). Topped with greens, menma-seasoned bamboo shoots, chashu roasted pork, leeks, green onions, soft boiled egg, nori seaweed. This is another one of my favorites – but let me clearly warn you do not wear any light colored clothing when eating this because you will get splashes of red on you!
- Miso uses a chicken and Carlton Farms pork bone broth base and miso. Miso is a fermented soybean paste, so it offers an extra depth of earthy flavor beyond the richness you would experience with Paitan or Tonkatsu broth. Topped with greens, marinated shredded Carlton Farms pork, nappa cabbage, bean sprouts, shitake, maitake and shimeji mushrooms, roasted onions, leeks, green onions.
- Marukin Vegan uses a vegetable and either Tonyu a Ota Tofu soy milk based broth or Shoyu a shoyu tare based broth, made with onions, garlic, shitake mushrooms, and kombu (a kind of kelp). Topped with greens, nappa cabbage, bean sprouts, roasted tomato, fried tofu, shitake, maitake and shimeji mushrooms, leeks, green onions. This is the best vegan tofu in Portland.
Ramen is eaten with chopsticks and a spoon is often provided for slurping some of the soup. Mix up all the items in your bowl except the nori – you can leave it sticking out to give you some crunchy to have between slurps. I leave the chashu usually towards the end to eat so it can help flavor the broth for a while.
Ramen noodles get soggy quickly because they start to absorb the soup and they continue to cook in the broth, so everything should be eaten immediately after they are served and finished in about 5 minutes or so while the noodles are still firm.
They don’t offer extra toppings you can order yet – it sounds like that will be something that will be added to the menu later after they get used to regular service of their menu. There are some secret homemade chili oil you can supposedly ask for as well. To start they want you to enjoy the flavors and experience it as is before customizing it.
Ramen can be a one dish meal, but there are side dishes to enjoy if you don’t want ramen, or in addition to your ramen. For official side dishes, there are options such as Pan fried Carlton Farms Gyoza, Chicken Karaage (Japanese style fried chicken served with a little mustard), Ebi Tiger deep fried shrimp karaage style, and onigiri. I definitely will report back after trying the onigiri, which was a big staple snack during my trip to Japan to carry these rice balls in our bags on hikes.
So this isn’t quite the Ramen Museum amount of ramen styles to try that I had in Japan, but it is the best chance in Portland now to try a variety of styles of ramen. I admire that they are carefully expanding their menu as they go to not sacrifice on quality and service, and hope you give them a try and be kind about their growing into their rhythm as they are so new. You can probably expect lines, just like ramen shops that are good I’m Japan – keep in mind that ramen is eaten relatively quickly so there should be fast turnover of seats too. The unspoken rule of ramen shops is to not linger and get your ramen fix done and leave – sort of like eating fast food.
Which ramen do you think you want to try?
Disclosure: I attended a media preview but I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own.