The Portland ramen scene has exploded in recent years, spurred by the arrival of two authentic eateries straight from Tokyo. Discover your perfect bowl at these top-notch noodle spots.
Afuri Ramen + Dumpling
Tokyo favorite Afuro Ramen + Dumpling was reportedly wooed by cities like London, New York and even Dubai but chose to open its first location outside of Japan here. (Why? They say it’s because we have the perfect tap water.) Now with three locations in the Portland metropolitan area, you can visit any of Afuri’s expansive, elegant dining rooms to sample the restaurant’s signature yuzu shio broth, flavored with Japanese citrus, seaweed, mushrooms and dried seafood.
Kinboshi Ramen is located in Portland’s Central Eastside. Its menu features offerings like a spicy tonkotsushoyu (pork bone broth) and a silken, chicken-based paitan, as well as a pair of rich, vegan-friendly bowls filled with mushrooms, vegetables and fried tofu. Plenty of covered outdoor seating makes it an excellent spot to people-watch while eating a delicious bowl of ramen.
Founded as a roving monthly pop-up, Boke Bowl opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Portland’s Central Eastside in late 2011, making it the grandfather of the city’s booming ramen scene. Defining themselves as “Portland-style ramen,” their playful creations like miso-butterscotch “Boke Twinkies” and peanut butter and jelly steamed buns set the stage for the main event: steaming bowls of broth, brimming with slow-smoked pulled pork, caramelized fennel or spicy house-made chicken sausage. Their duck dumplings and fried chicken buns are also a must-try.
Kayo’s Ramen Bar
Step inside this North Williams Avenue noodle spot and take your pick of nine sumptuous broths and three noodle options. Specializing in clear-broth ramen, Kayo’s Ramen Bar offers options to please all dietary preferences. Try the “low carb” noodles, which include a half-serving of house-made noodles mixed with a generous helping of julienned zucchini and daikon. And possibly as a nod to the previous business (a local Mexican chain restaurant) that occupied the space, Kayo’s menu also offers a variety of Mexican-Japanese fusion “Japon” tacos for those ready to expand on the customary taco flavor profile.
This popular fast-casual spot is the brainchild of Portland restaurateurs Micah Camden and Katie Poppe, known for opening local favorites like Little Big Burger and Blue Star Donuts. Their ramen spot, Boxer, specializes in high-quality ingredients paired with an irreverent aesthetic. What started as a dedicated noodle shop expanded in 2022 to include sushi, sashimi, sake, cocktails and more.
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From Polish pierogi to Japanese gyoza, nothing says comfort food like these doughy pockets of goodness — no matter when you visit Portland, enjoy a variety of dumplings at these terrific eateries.
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