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Sep 16, 2010 04:54 AM

Pai Men Miyake - Noodle Bar In Portland

[Note: With the permission of the poster, we've replaced the content of this post with a link to where it originally appeared. -- The Chowhound Team]

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    1. Can't wait to try it!

      Does the pipe on the ceiling still say "This is not a pipe"?

      1. "We"? Does this mean you are working there Johnny?

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. Epic fail. Restaurant is supposed to be open from 12-12... or so they claimed. I skipped lunch and was starving by 3:45pm, so I decided to hit Pai Men Miyake for late lunch/early dinner before the evening crowd rolled in. Arrived to find the doors shut and locked, and a wait staff that would not come to the door or window when I knocked (in hopes of asking what time they opened). I got on my phone and called over to Miyake in hopes that they could provide me with answers. Got a clueless, Tommy-Chong sounding guy on the phone who eventually was able to tell me that Pai Men had run out of food and closed after the lunch rush but that they'd reopen at 4pm. Figuring that I could wait a few more minutes, I hung around until 4pm and tried again. Once more, the doors were locked. I knocked on the window and the same waiter who was folding napkins continued to ignore me. Finally, when it became apparent to him that I wasn't going to be ignored, he came over to the door, literally rolling his eyes at me. I asked him what time they were going to open and he seemed to have no clue. He asked someone at the bar and then told me that they were now opening at 5pm. I was so annoyed that I didn't even bother to ask him why they didn't open at 4pm. At this point, I was on the verge of just calling it a night, but against my better judgment, I decided to wait the extra hour out over at Local 188. An hour and a couple of beers later, I tried Pai Men Miyake again, only to see a family of four being turned away from the door. I asked them what was going on and they told me that the place wasn't opening until 5:30pm. (They had gotten the same runaround as I had received, as they had called earlier in the day and were told that the place was open from "12 to 12.") At this point, we all decided that our money would be better spent elsewhere.

            What a fiasco. I understand that restaurants sometimes experience growing pains in their first days and weeks, but not opening on time (and treating your customers like dirt when they have the nerve to want to know when you WILL be open) is extremely unprofessional. Masa is better than this... he needs to rein his staff in and put and end to the nonsense and their juvenile attitudes. Much has been made of the fact that he took his staff down to various noodle houses in NYC... looks like the only thing they brought back to Maine with them was the pretentiousness.

            BTW, the description that johnnydj wrote is word-for-word from the Portland Food Coma blog, whose author works at Pai Men Miyake and who has been playing it up for months. So johnnydj is either that person or he did not correctly attribute what he copied and pasted to the correct source.

            5 Replies
            1. I actually spent much of my evening drafting a letter to Masa highlighting my concerns. I included in the letter some links to some of the complaints I've seen online, including the ones on this board. I've met Masa a few times, and I know he takes his business very seriously, so I have to believe that the kind of nonsense we both experienced at Pai Men Miyake is taking place under his radar. Of course, if that's the case, it begs the question of why he doesn't have more of a presence there and who HAS he trusted with that responsibility. Anyway, I'm sure he'll get to the bottom of it... I would just hate for his new spot (which is easily my most anticipated restaurant opening of 2010) to get a bad reputation because of a few bad apples who think they are Gods' gift to wait staffing.

              1. re: matteo1973


                The restaurant has been open for all of THREE days. How about you cut it some slack? As near as I can tell, it does not even have "official" business hours yet. Joe posted on his blog that he was "unsure of this week's schedule" but that the hours would "generally" be from noon to midnight? Given this fact -- and the fact that it's opening week -- it hardly makes any sense to camp-out outside the restaurant waiting for it to open.

                My wife and I drove by last night around 7:30 and, since there was no wait, we decided to dine there. My first impressions were quite favorable, though obviously it is working out the usual restaurant-opening issues. We tried the pork buns, the cucumber salad (with white sardines), the crunchy tuna roll, and the miso and soy ramens.

                The the ramens were quite good (though, I actually enjoyed the ramen I had at Food Factory Miyake a few months ago more; I suspect that, given time, the ramen will improve). The crunchy tuna roll (with almond slivers!) was fun comfort food, and the pork buns were excellent (though not quite what I expected; from a picture I saw, i expected Momofuku-style folded pork buns with a slice of pork ... these were dim-sum style pork buns, with a mix of chopped pork and seasonings sealed inside).

                My biggest quibble was the price of the pork buns: $9/order (of two). I suspect that this may have been our server's error in writing out our tab (the pork buns weren't on the menu, so we didn't know the price when we ordered). If $9 is, in fact, the price of the pork buns, we'll have to skip them next time and just wait for our next trip to Boston where we can get an order of 4 similar-styled pork buns at a dim sum place for under $5. If Miyake is selling the Momofuku style buns, then they might be worth closer to $9 -- but not these.

                Looking forward to making it back and watching the place grow and improve. It's like no other restaurant in Portland and I can see myself returning there multiple times a month for lunch, dinner, or a late-night bowl of ramen.

                1. re: portlandeats

                  Nobody was "camping outside" the restaurant, portlandeats. I CALLED and asked about their hours and was told 12-12 (Joe mentions these hours in his blog, as you note, but I got the hours straight from the restaurant itself). And when they weren't open, I CALLED the Miyake location and was told 4pm. Since it was (apparently) only going to be a 10-15 minute wait, I didn't mind waiting outside. And then when the place still wasn't open at 4pm, I ASKED the waiter inside what time they opened. Its not as if anyone (me or the family I mentioned) just showed up and blindly expected them to be open. Get a grip, please.

                  Honestly, this wouldn't be such a big deal if not for the lousy attitude of the staff. And it sounds like I'm hardly alone in that sentiment. For me, that was the difference-maker in terms of deciding whether or not to give Pai Men Miyake another shot (actually it would be a first shot since I never even got inside the door). I don't care if you've been open for 3 days or 3 years... there is NO excuse for behavior like that.

                  1. re: cfinin

                    A couple of developments:

                    1) There is now a sign on the front door stating what the restaurant's hours are for the first week of business.

                    2) The pork buns are, in fact, $9 for two. A friend confirmed this for me, and she noted that they are spectacular.

                    3) I'm told by same friend that Masa was there tonight overseeing things. She said that neither she nor her date had anything bad to say about the wait staff. They were a little bit on the quiet side, but polite. She said she did not witness any diva behavior whatsoever.

                    4) Lastly, she tells me that when she was there (6pm-8pm'ish), there was plenty of seating available, both at tables and the bar.

                    So hopefully this bodes well for Pei Men Miyake. I'll be the first to admit that I can get a little blustery when I'm irritated, so now that I've had a day to cool down, I will probably give them another shot. I've never had anything but good things to say about Miyake, so I'm willing to chalk up my earlier complaints to being a fluke.

                    1. re: matteo1973

                      Perhaps you could consider deleting or severely editing the "Bad service overpriced food" copy of this review (written days after the soft launch) you've posted to Google Maps. You seem to have reconsidered here: give a small business a bit of a break and reconsider your very negative post there as well?