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Pai Men Miyake - Noodle Bar In Portland

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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. 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. re: cfinin

            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?

            2. Yes, I did copy/paste detail from PFC - my posts with non-CH sources are usually deleted so I didn't bother attributing a source, and. no, I am not PFC nor do I work at PMM.

              It sounds like an exciting first weekend here! Too bad I was in Rockport, Mass. eating shitty fried fish instead. Please don't get in a froth about PMM's opening week. It's the opening week! People who expect too much are invariably disappointed. Let's all go NEXT week and reboot.

              4 Replies
              1. re: johnnydj

                The first few weeks of any restaurant openeing are bound to upset people, take the advice and wait a few weeks to let the kinks get rolled out. There are so many things that go into opening a place, there are bound to be some mistakes. Miyake is a great place, so I expect that PMM will be too, take a breath give it time, if you don't go back you may be depriving youreself of something really great.

                1. re: Mainecuisine

                  Totally agree with this, Mainecuisine. As a restaurant owner, we faced the ridiculousness of reviewers (and no, not chowhounders, but local bloggers and reviewers) coming in as early as day 3 of our opening. In an ideal world, every little possible detail would be hammered out, the staff would be pristine and completely 100 on key and the food would be exactly as imagined in the mind of every diner. But, unfortunately, this is the real world, and that simply does not happen on every, or even most openings. Cut them some slack. I went recently and although the service was a little off (due to the relentless droves of walkers-by pouring in through the wee little door in the front), I imagine they will be spot on in a matter of weeks. As far as the food goes, it was PERFCT (in my opinion, and that of my dining date).
                  I always find it funny when people equate a meal they have had at my, or any other establishment as being "Horrific", or an "Abomination". No. Horrific is seeing your child hit by a car, an abomination is the felling of the Trade Centers. Your bad meal was simply: a bad meal. Unless you got food poisoning and were pointed at an laughed at by your server.

                  1. re: FMSR

                    Your last point is well taken.

                    1. re: whs

                      I think that people should refrain from long, critical posts about new restaurants and certainly not use the words "epic fail" as the opening line. Not very nice. I've certainly done my share of complaining here on chowhound about this or that, but for a new place like this, I think it is important to take a deep breath and give 'em a chance! I want to say that we went to Pei Men Miyake today for lunch with an open mind, knowing that it is very early in their game. We had a lovely lunch--the pork rolls were delicious as was the crunchy-spicy tuna roll. And the noodles--oh, I am so happy that we have a real Japanese noodle restaurant in our small, lovely city--they were SO good. Rich broths (three different types right now to choose) with pork belly, egg, etc. The noodles themselves were excellent and when we asked about them, we were told that while they are certainly good quality noodles, they will soon be even better because they are working toward setting up a homemade noodle making operation there. They said the menu will develop over time as well (and soon will include green tea, which they did not have today). The space itself is very cool and aesthetically pleasing (simple but very interesting decor), and you can sit at the bar (which we did) or eat at a table. Also, I thought everything was very reasonably priced (including the $9 for two yummy pork rolls). Anyway, we had a terrific, satisfying meal in a very pleasant environment, even at this early stage when things are not as smooth as they will be when they are settled in. It was the highlight of our afternoon, in fact. I foresee spending many upcoming cold winter nights there with a steamy bowls of noodle soup for supper...can't wait. Thanks for opening your doors to our community even if things are not all perfectly figured out and lined up!! We'll be back--and we'll bring others.

              2. Went for lunch. Service was very good. They were moderately busy.

                Chef Masa was there cooking and food was excellent.

                They didn't have all the sakes listed and the servers didn't know much about them and the sake "expert" was in NYC, so we went w/ lower end sake which was fine. It was the only minute flaw in the whole experience is that the staff should be trained a bit better, but the sake menu did have descriptions on most.

                Food came out rapid fire. Greeted by a server at the door the minute we walked in.

                7 Replies
                1. re: bewley

                  Went last night early for dinner. Not crowded. Got a table right away. Cool space. Service was very good - did stump the server with a question but instead of faking it, she came back with the answer. Apps were very good. Scallion pancakes very thin and crispy. Dumplings were very nice though I threw a burning hot one in my mouth - stupid me. The highlight was a sweet tofu roll - amazing. Noodles were very good - maybe a touch too salty for my taste but very good nonetheless. Will return often.

                  1. re: bobbert

                    Yes, we had the sweet tofu roll and thought is was great. What was the mayo on top?

                    1. re: bewley

                      You know, that was the question we asked the server but for the life of me I can't remember what it was, only that it was great.

                        1. re: serendipityeats

                          Returned after 2 weeks to find the place has gotten better (it was already good). The menu is a little expanded - was told that they're slowly expanding their offerings - smart move: get a few things down then slowly add new ones. Liked the pork buns (2 per serving) maybe just a little less bun and a little more pork. Had a special salmon teriyaki app which was amazing. Again had the spicy sweet tofu roll which is worth the trip by itself - yes, that's kewpie on it and it's sooo good. I a!dded a bowl of the miso noodles. Was better than last time - not as salty and seemed a little thicker. Excellent! You really should start going here now while it's fairly easy to get a seat. By next summer there will be lines.

                          1. re: serendipityeats

                            Yes, it was. I bought a bottle of Kewpie after reading this and you're correct.

                      1. re: bobbert

                        I went back for lunch yesterday, and I would agree about the saltiness (I had the shoyu ramen). I think in the future I'll ask for something that is less salty. The pork buns were outrageously good, and they do now have hot tea (oolong).

                    2. Oh man, this place is just what Portland was missing. And if you don't live here, let me just tell you that we are not missing much in the way of amazing food in this town. But warm, slurpy noodle soups and amazing amazing amazing pork buns? I think I have found my winter love.

                      I was greeted at the door within seconds of joining the crowd in the entryway at 7:30 on a friday night. The host was efficient and polite, and seated me within minutes at the bar, despite the fact that my friend wasn't there yet. Twenty minutes later, when she still hadn't shown up, ALL the staff were friendly and genuinely made me feel like it was no big deal that I was taking up space. They were super polite, were available to take our order when we were ready but didn't rush us for a minute. The space is beautiful, fun but simple and clean. The owner was there watching everything, and the service felt efficient and well coordinated. I love that seating at the bar isn't so crowded that you don't want to be there. You can turn towards the person next to you and not worry about elbowing anyone next to you.

                      And the food, oh the food. It was delicious....every bite.

                      1. I'm in the minority here, but we were not overly impressed with Pai Men Miyake. We went for lunch on a very cold, rainy day. Once seated I asked for green tea, server said they didn't have hot green tea, just iced tea (this was November ). I asked why, he explained true noodle houses do not have hot tea. I'm all for authenticity BUT I think hot tea should be provided, esp in Maine in the winter! I asked what they had that was warm or hot to drink - he said they didn't have anything. Hot sake not yet available (altho I prefer sake cold), but no tea of any type, nor coffee is avail.
                        Menu selection was very limited, about 3 appetizers, 3 noodle entrees, and 3 other small plates. We ordered the pork belly roll, and thought the meat was gristly and had a little too much sauce on it. But have to admit we are not big meat eaters. I had the miso noodles, which was a generous portion of very good noodles with a salted egg. DH had the salmon terriake, which was good but the portion was small.
                        Think we just expected more having been to Miyake's on Spring St several times, and loving their food. It's our favorite place for sushi. This was OK, just not outstanding.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: maina

                          I think the "hype" may not have as much to do with the food and offerings as much as it has to do with a very authentic noodle bar being brought to Portland Maine. Most people don't have the guts to open more "adventurous" ethnic eateries in the land of meat and potatoes, pizza and sports bars.

                          This is not to diminish your experience in any way, it's just to explain some of the hype.

                          1. re: bewley

                            I want to guess that it's also a bit of Pai Men having to come out of the shadow of Food Factory Miyake. Granted, they are two completely different establishments but it seems that people are stuck on comparing the two.

                            1. re: serendipityeats

                              Yes. I actually tried both places within a month, in my "Month of Miyake." ahem. We enjoyed both equally. The Food Factory Miyake was actually quite slow for lunch whereas Pai Men Miyake was very busy (being a place just opened and a buzz and whatnot). I have to say the waiter at Pai Men Miyake had to field a lot of questions, like "What's ramen?" and "Is this ALL you serve?" I thought Miyake deserves a lot of credit to open such a place in Portland. I really like Portland, but it is a city bereft . . . well, I spent the day driving around Somerville, MA yesterday and the amount of ethnic eateries dazzles the mind.

                              1. re: bewley

                                I think two things happened when they opened. First thee was the inevitable comparison to Food Factory miyake which of course is unfair - apples and oranges. Second, the place got slammed when they first opened because of its pedigree but before it had a chance to get its act together. I went again last night _ the menu continues to evolve. I had a delicious grilled unagi rice bowl. Without drinks you can have dinner for two (split an app and each have a bowl of something) for under $30 and people should keep that in mind when making comparisons. I think some of the initial reviews were harsh all things considered. For what it is - a really good noodle place at a very reasonable price - the place is really hard to beat. Its not Food Factory Miyake but I can eat here about 3 or 4 times for the same $$$$ as one time at Food Factory.