SUMMER’S BEEN OFF to a slow start, heat wise, but Portland’s finally getting hot enough to declare pants optional. You might not think “ramen” on an 85-plus-degree day, but that’s your first mistake. Cold ramen—delicious cold broths or dressed-up salads—are crispy, refreshing, and a great way to get your noodle fix until fall. Here are a few of our favorite places to find cold ramen (which should always be accompanied by an ice-cold Kirin).
609 SE Ankeny, Ste. A, and Pine Street Market, 126 SW 2nd
The clear broth in Marukin’s hiyashi ramen belies some serious flavor. Most cold ramen is served dry, or it’s tarted up like a salad, but this is a cold broth of chicken and pork bone with shoyu seasoning—and it arrives as clear as any French consommé. This $10 bowl also gets pickled tomatoes, shoyu marinated chicken, spiced shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, green onions, leeks, and leek oil. It’s the leader of the city’s cold ramen pack, to be sure.
2712 NE Alberta
At this new spot from the owners of Mississippi’s Samurai Blue sushi restaurant, you can get any of their four ramen flavors made into a cold version if you ask. It’s largely the same bowl as the hot versions (all $10), except a wonton topping is swapped for ridiculously tasty shiitake mushrooms. The shoyu cold bowl kept its unctuous meaty essence even without a broth, but the best we tried was the spicy miso, with noodles coated in a red paste that had a slow, pleasant burn.
1200 NW 18th and 1028 SE Water
Boke Bowl’s cold ramen ($12) gets a spot on the menu through the fall, the staff said. It’s the most salad-like one we’ve found: Its goodies included arugula, cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, carrots, corn, fried shallots, an egg, and a sesame dressing with a vinegar kick. You can top it with pork or fried tofu; we kicked it vegetarian to up the healthy vibes.
Kayo’s Ramen Bar
3808 N Williams, Ste. 124
Kayo’s opened recently in the old Cha Cha Cha! space on North Williams, and it’s been packed with families and noodle hunters ever since. They’ve rolled out a hiyashi chuka ($12) cold ramen for the summer, with a colorful presentation of pickled ginger, julienned cucumbers, a perfectly cooked medium-boiled egg, and pork. Kayo’s makes its noodles in house, and they were lovely and chewy, coated in a house-made tare sauce.
1430 SE Water
The bonito flakes atop Noraneko’s cold ramen ($9) wave happily in the steam from the just-gooey yolk of an egg and pork shoulder (add the pork for a bit more). This entry from Biwa’s sister restaurant is an exercise in simplicity—cucumbers, green onion, and radish, that’s it. But in true Japanese fashion, it makes a statement.
Try This!Pok Pok Sausages at the Supermarket
Critic’s note: This occasional entry is about stuff that I eat or drink that you should eat or drink, too. It may be about items that are locally made, or they may not be, but you’ll be able to find them in town. And you should.
INSIDE A MASSIVE warehouse in Inner Southeast, there is a magical place where thousands of sausages hang from racks like cured snowflakes. This is where Olympia Provisions makes its frankfurters, charcuterie, pâté, and—as of August 1—it’s also where Pok Pok’s legendary Northern Thai sausages will be made.
Olympia Provisions co-owner Elias Cairo says Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker has been after him to make sai oua—a Chiang Mai specialty—for about 10 years. And thanks to Feast Portland, it finally happened.
It’s one of six collaborative items done in honor of the citywide food festival, taking place September 15-18, and the one I’m most excited about. I scored some advance links after a tour of the Olympia Provisions factory, and cooked them up last week. They’re great—rich with lemongrass, spices, shallots, and fish sauce.
The spice level is fairly mild, perfect for a homemade banh mi or served straight up with sticky rice and a spicy cucumber salad. Cairo says he plans to make them indefinitely. Bring them home via Olympia Provisions’ website (olympiaprovisions.com), at their Portland locations, and at New Seasons to start, then later at other grocery stores where OP is sold.
Other Feast collaborations include three new chocolates from Xocolatl de David with Olympia Provisions, Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, and Jessica Koslow of Sqirl; an Oregon cherry candy from Quin; and a special flavor of Pok Pok’s Som drinking vinegar. They’ll be available August 1 through September 18 online and at their retail locations. Even if you can’t get a ticket, keep an eye out for special Feast flavors from Stumptown and Wiz Bang Bar the week of the event.