PDX - BIWA
They finally opened to the public today and I just couldn’t wait… What a meal! Go check them out before the big crowds discover them. Good food; reasonable prices; friendly staff. Menu consists mostly of very inexpensive a-la-carte items - perfect if you like to try lots of small items.
I had an assortment of wonderful small grilled skewers: Shitake ($2), Lamb ($3), Pork Cheek ($3), Chicken Liver ($2), Chicken Thigh ($3). I could have happily stopped here, but I kept on going…
Gyoza pork dumplings ($6), Udon soup ($7; I bet the noodles were homemade – excellent.) and Grilled Mackerel ($7). Washed it off with bottomless cup of Japanese tea ($2) and unfiltered sake ($6? forgot the brand, but I liked it.) Would have liked some desert to wrap it up with but, well - it's their first day. I am told that some good ice-cream is on the way…
I will be back very soon. [Biwa 503.239.8830. 215 SE 9th . Corner of Ash St. Same building as Simpatica]
Aristo, thanks for the write-up--launched my first visit. The Biwa website is lovely, but maddeningly short on detail: hours of operation? menu items? (Jill-O, thanks for posting a menu--though this is not the same as the menu that they were handing out when I ate there.) Favorite skewer items included the pork belly, the kalbi, miso-glazed cod, salted mackerel, and the roasted shishito peppers. Waiting for the ramen and the grilled chicken skin--which as of my Friday evening visit, were listed on the menu as "coming soon!"
One of the owners visited with us as we slowed down over rice and tea--the chefs are working on the broth for the ramen--it sounds like there will be much experimenting and perfecting. The head chef/co-owner lived in Sapporo, aka "the city of ramen," so may account for the Tampopo-like devotion to "getting it right." Sigh. I'm ready already. In the meantime, there are plenty of other things to eat on the menu. I like it so much I'm in danger of trying to adopt it as my personal canteen--those stools at the bar invite this--drop in, slurp, and go. Repeat.
Stopped by last night (Wed 3/21). Ramen's on the menu! It's insanely delicious. You know how good those charred stripes taste when you grill something? It's gone beyond grease but not yet to ash--and somehow it's addictive? At least for me. Well, that taste is in the broth. And salt. Are they passing bones over the grill before they send it into the stockpot? I dunno, but we were crazy over it like it was catnip. The ramen noodles are good for slurping, they look like slim cousins of soba, but taste only of wheat. Unlike those industrial instant packages of ramen, this wheat's still alive, it's got something to give when you bite it, some resistance that makes it more satisfying to eat. It's a whole technicolor experience. Highly recommend.
Tonight had the grilled negi & dengaku: Japanese leek & tofu with fragrant miso. Was soooo tasty & done to prefection! Also had the vegie chimiji, a Korean griddlecake, very nice.
Two of the owners came by. They were receptive to my pleas for okonomiyaki, the Osaka/Hiroshima street savory griddlecake, especially scallops. Pleeeeeez, onegai shi masu???
Kind, attentive, polite service. Basic eastside industrial decor but the cloth napkins a welcome touch. Stools at the counter look like from high school biology class.
Next time will try the kitsune udon, the handmade noodles with age (fried) tofu. Sounds oishi so!
Went tonight and the space is really nice. Simple, industrial and really clean. The menu looks great but it ate a bit under the mark. We ate kimchi, sashimi (yellowtail) and Ramen and Udon soup. Kimchi was fine but nothing exciting, the sashimi was very tender and good, but the soups were a bit heavy with salt. The udon noodles themselves were very good, stcky chewy. Seeing as how they just opened, I think in a few weeks this place will be great. They just need to figure out the salt.
Thought I would cross post this from PFG:
We were there last Sat. night and tried lots of things. We really liked the gyoza, the simmered pork belly, grilled rice, a pork tenderloin skewer special, pork belly skewers, chicken thighs, lamb, leeks, and beef negi. We thought the chicken livers, halibut cheeks and pork cheeks were good. Just OK were the kalbi and the shitake skewers. Drank some very tasty Japanese tea with our meal, though next time I want to try some unfiltered sake.
We ordered the chijimi (vegetable pancake) and when we each took a bite, realized that the predominant veggie was jalapeno (or some similar) pepper. We sent it back (almost choking) and they took it off our bill. They should warn folks about that... ;o)
Neither of us was in the mood for soup, but the ramen and the udon both looked good. Perhaps next time.
Got there at opening (5pm) and it was fairly empty until around 6pm when it started to fill up.
We really enjoyed ourselves and we will be back.