Shigezo

What is your favorite little restaurant in your neighborhood that you can go to any day for a quick date? For F and I, it used to be a Mediterranean place but that closed own recently and now our spot is Shigezo Sushi Izakaya and Sushi. Shigezo is a Japanese restaurant that has a large menu that can make omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten free all happy. They offer sushi, but I particulalry love their rice bowls, grilled items, and ramen. I even find room to squeeze in desserts. Here are some of our favorite dishes.

For the vegetarian and vegans out there, here’s a starter for you from the happy hour menu: Deep fried tofu in hot soy broth, or the Temaki, or hand roll of the Veggie Roll with avocado, cucumber, shiso leaf, daikon sprouts, yamagobo, and sesame seeds.
Shigezo Agedashi Tofu appetizer with fried tofu, mochi, ginger, grated daikon, shishito pepper Shigezo happy hour Temaki, or hand roll: this is the Veggie Roll with avocado, cucumber, shiso leaf, daikon sprouts, yamagobo, and sesame seeds

Shigezo has a Robata Grill, so you can order individual skewers like these – Thigh, Breast, Pork Belly, Quail Egg and Bacon, and Flank Steak skewers. Thankfully, Shigezo has much more space so you won’t be elbow to elbow and in a cloud of smoke like the typical hole in the wall izakaya in an alley in Tokyo! They have about a dozen skewers so not as many as an in izakaya, but half are meat and half are vegetables so they are great appetizers before your meal. Or just order skewers as a snack accompaniment to drinks like beer or sake, which is what most people do in Japan. The skewers are part of the happy hour menu!
Shigezo has a Robata, so you can get grilled skewers like these - Thigh, Breast, Pork Belly, Quail Egg and Bacon skewers Shigezo has a Robata, so you can get grilled skewers and the skwers are on their regular adn happy hour menu

They also have a handful of teppan grill items not on skewers, such as Grilled Chicken Thigh with choice of Yakitori sauce or Shio Dare (it doesn’t look like much, but the crunchy pieces of chicken are delish) and my favorite, squid such as Grilled Squid Legs (available for happy hour) or the Grilled Drunk Squid, a grilled squid marinated with soy sauce, mirin and sugar over night, both are served with mayo and chili pepper.
Shigezo Grilled Squid Legs, served with mayo and chili pepper Shigezo Grilled Drunk Squid dish, Grilled squid marinated with soy sauce, mirin and sugar over night, served with mayo and chili pepper

Another hole in the wall type of food I sometimes crave is Tempura. In Japan, there are some small restaurants that only do tempura, and you can choose stick by stick what you want. At Shigezo you have the option of vegetables usually on a specials menu (such as kabocha squash) or the classic shrimp and I usually just go for Shrimp Tempura.
Shigezo's 5 pieces of shrimp tempura with shishito pepper

Japanese curry with rice donburi is super comforting. Often Japanese curries have meat, but at Shigezo they also have a Japanese Vegetable Curry that is vegan with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, and onion in mild brown curry with shredded cabbage over rice. They have this on the dinner and happy hour menu.
Often Japanese curries have meat, but at Shigezo they also have a Vegetable Curry that is vegan with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, and onion in mild brown curry with shredded cabbage over rice.

For the omnivore, the curry I prefer is the Chicken Katsu Curry, a panko fried chicken breast on top of beef curry with shredded cabbage and rice.
Shigezo has on their happy menu this great Chicken Katsu Curry, a panko fried chicken breast on top of beef curry with shredded cabbage and rice.

For the omnivore who wants something lighter then curry, I really like the Shigezo Kitchen special of Seafood Takikomi Don, a Japanese style rice bowl dish cooked with soy sauce, mirin, eringi and and enoki mushrooms and topped with crab, salmon roe, and shiso leaf
Shigezo Kitchen special of Seafood Takikomi Don, a Japanese style rice bowl dish cooked with soy sauce, mirin, eringi and and enoki mushrooms and topped with crab, salmon roe, and shiso leaf

They have delicious ramen with broth, but I also like something unusual that you don’t always see at ramen places – Abu Ramen. All year round, they have Abu Ramen or Udon – your choice of ramen or udon noodles, tossed in house shiodare, vegetable ramen base, garlic oil, chili paste and onion oil, topped with chashu pork, soft boiled egg, green onions, bean sprouts, tempura puffs and crispy wontons – can be made vegan or vegetarian by excluding the pork or egg.
Shigezu Abu Ramen or Udon - your choice of ramen or udon noodles, tossed in house shiodare, vegetable ramen base, garlic oil, chili paste and onion oil, topped with chashu pork, soft boiled egg, green onions, bean sprouts, tempura puffs and crispy wontons - can be made vegan or vegetarian by excluding the pork or egg Shigezu Abu Ramen or Udon - your choice of ramen or udon noodles, tossed in house shiodare, vegetable ramen base, garlic oil, chili paste and onion oil, topped with chashu pork, soft boiled egg, green onions, bean sprouts, tempura puffs and crispy wontons - can be made vegan or vegetarian by excluding the pork or egg

For vegetarians and vegans, besides the Abu you can also get a broth noodle bowl. Here below you see the Shigezo Happy hour portion of Veggie Udon, which is vegan, with napa cabbage, green onion, shungiku, eringi, enoki, tempura puffs, and homemade udon noodles in a seaweed and soy broth.
Shigezo Happy hour portion of Veggie Udon, which is vegan, with napa cabbage, green onion, shungiku, eringi, enoki, tempura puffs, and homemade udon noodles in a seaweed and soy broth

Try to leave some room for dessert. Here you can find special dessert menu items, such as here Coconut Butter Mochi, a rich and delicate homemade Hawaiian style mochi cake served with your choice of vanilla, adzuki green tea or mango ice cream, or Goma Dango a dish with fried sesame balls filled with adzuki served with sweet potato chip and your choice of vanilla, adzuki green tea or mango ice cream
From Shigezo, special dessert menu item of Coconut Butter Mochi, a rich and delicate homemade Hawaiian style mochi cake served with your choice of ice cream From Shigezo, special dessert menu item of Goma Dango, a dish with fried sesame balls filled with adzuki served with sweet potato chip and your choice of vanilla, adzuki green tea or mango ice cream

Do you have a favorite Japanese restaurant in your neighborhood, whether it be for yakitori or sushi or whatever, what is it?

Shigezo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Signature

Marukin Ramen

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.

Marukin Ramen's location at 609 SE Ankeny includes roll up garage door and lots of windows to let in the light. Marukin Ramen's location at 609 SE Ankeny includes roll up garage door and lots of windows to let in the light.

They are offering 6 kinds of ramen, all priced at $10.
Marukin Ramen is offering multiple kinds of ramen

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

  1. 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 Ramen, Tokyo Shoyu, clear broth made with chicken and Carlton Farms pork bones with shoyu. Topped with greens, menma-seasoned bamboo shoots, chashu roasted pork, roasted onions, leeks, green onions, soft boiled egg, nori seaweed.
  2. 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.
    Marukin Ramen, the famous Marukin broth uses a unique, rich, creamy chicken based broth also known as paitan. Marukin Ramen, the famous Marukin broth uses a unique, rich, creamy chicken based broth also known as paitan.
  3. 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 Ramen, Tonkotsu Shoyu is a creamy Carlton Farms pork bone based soup flavored with shoyu.
  4. 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!
    Marukin Ramen, Marukin Red is a spicy version of the Marukin ramen with paitan Marukin Ramen, Marukin Red is a spicy version of the Marukin ramen with paitan
  5. 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 Ramen, their Miso Ramen uses a chicken and Carlton Farms pork bone broth base and miso. Topped with greens, marinated shredded Carlton Farms pork, nappa cabbage, bean sprouts, shitake, maitake and shimeji mushrooms, roasted onions, leeks, green onions.
  6. 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.
    Marukin Ramen, Marukin Vegan uses a vegetable and Ota Tofu soy milk based broth made of 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.

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.
Marukin Ramen, the famous Marukin broth uses a unique, rich, creamy chicken based broth also known as paitan. Then for your Marukin ramen flavoyou must choose either shio (salt) or shoyu (soy sauce).

At the end, it’s fine to pick up the bowl to drink the soup directly from the bowl – you do not need to drink the whole bowl to be polite, though it is considered a compliment to the chef.
Marukin Ramen

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.
Marukin Ramen, Pan fried Carlton Farms Gyoza Marukin Ramen, Chicken Karaage (Japanese style fried chicken served with a little mustard) Marukin Ramen, Ebi Tiger deep fried shrimp karaage style

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?

Marukin Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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.

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