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Pai Men Miyake - Noodle Bar In Portland


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.

Soju (Japanese & Korean Cusine) - Portland, Maine

I'm not sure I would say that "by far" HT has better food than Soju. I've dined at Soju three times since it opened. I've had the bibimop, the spicy squid, and the kim chee chi ge (kim chee, tofu, pork stew) and have enjoyed it all (the stew, in particular, was fantastic). I've also been to HT a handful of times and enjoyed my meals there as well.

I'd say a more direct comparison of the dishes is in order before one proclaims HT the winner.

Cheap/Inexpensive Dinner in Portland, ME

I'd second most everything that's been metioned above (I'd say Bonobo is our most frequent go-to cheap eats dinner restaurant for pizza and beer) and add a few:

Duckfat: Great panini + Belgian Fries.
Kim's Sandwich Shop: Vietnamese Bahn Mi Sandwiches. At under $3/each I don't know if you can find a better, cheaper, lunch
Po'Boys + Pickles (out on Forest across from Susan's): Surprisingly good New Orleans style sandwiches and gumbo
Norm's East End: Good BBQ (for Portland). It's salads are always fresh, tasty, and filing.
Soju: New Korean / Japanese resto on Congress. I haven't tried the Japanese cuisine, but I've enjoyed all the Korean dishes I've ordered.

Pho Hanoi - New Vietnamese in SoPo

I thought that water was actually jasmine iced tea. Good stuff and a nice touch. I'd agree that the portions were a bit smaller (and pricier) than Thahn Thahn or Saigon, but I'll take it, since it's right down the street.

Pho Hanoi - New Vietnamese in SoPo

I had dinner there last night with my kids. Tried the pho (nice, flavorful broth; though a bit pricey at $7.50 - $9.50 and the medium bowl I ordered for the kids didn't have tons of noodles or tons of meatballs (like 6 half-meatballs, considerably less than what you'd find in Thahn Thahn's pho)). Also tried the grilled pork with rice (the rice was great, with a nice garlic flavor, and the pork was cooked well and tasty) and a shrimp salad with Asian herbs, peanuts, sprouts and greens with a light dressing.

All in all, an enjoyable meal. We'll definitely be back and it's great not to have to drive over the bridge and then all the way down Forest Ave for our Vietnamese fix. I'd really have to try the pho here side by side with those offered Thahn Thahn and Saigon to determine which is better, but certainly given the convenience, Pho Hanoi holds its own.

Unfortunately no bahn mi on the menu. Maybe they'll add it with enough customer requests? It's a big reason we sometimes choose Saigon over Thahn Thahn when out on Forest.

Birthday Dinner in Portland, ME

Since it's your husband's birthday and he's a meat and potatoes type guy, you are definitely on the right path thinking about 555 and Fore Street. I'd say that Fore Street is the safest (with plenty of simply prepared proteins and unfussy food). 555 might be the best compromise place for both of you -- you could enjoy some of the more creative dishes, while your husband could opt for more standard food. Both are large, busy, and crowded restaurants with a similar energy.

Hugo's is the one place of the three that definitely stands out as not meat 'n potatoes. Most of the dishes are composed plates with lots of interesting / unusual flourishes. There's no guarantee that on any given night there will be basic steak or chicken or fish dish -- and in contrast to the other two restaurants, Hugo's is more quiet and understated. It's a great restaurant -- but maybe it's best left for your birthday, not his.

I don't think Fore offers a tasting menu, but they have an extensive menu with many apps, salads, and entrees, so if you wanted to sample many dishes you could easily do so.

I'd say you can't go wrong with either 555 or Fore. I can't promise they will never disappoint (b/c I've had dishes at both that I didn't love -- but I could say the same thing about most every restaurant), but it's very highly likely you'll enjoy yourself at both.

Fore Street
288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

Looking for Great Lunch in Portland (or on way to Waterville)

You really can't go wrong with either the Lobster Shack or Harraseeket Lobster. Both settings are quite nice, but different. In Cape you get the crashing-waves-on-cliffs and in So. Freeport you get the lobster boats and sailboats.

Lobster Shack
225 Two Lights Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

Best Sushi in Portland Maine?

I'll chime in with Miyake as well. I've dined there a number of times, and it truly stands out as the best creative sushi in the city. Some of the dishes I've enjoyed there are on par with the best sushi I've had anywhere (Including Boston). It's not just the best sushi in Portland, it's one of the top 4 or 5 restaurants in Portland, in my opinion.

I'd highly recommend either doing the 3, 5 or 7 course omakase menu, or ordering the omakase sushi and/or sashimi plate. Leave your meal in Masa's hands and you won't be dissapointed.

Looking for Great Lunch in Portland (or on way to Waterville)

I would definitely second Duckfat recommendation. If you are looking for more creative cuisine, check out Miyake (129 Spring St.) for Japanese. They have a $15 or $25 lunch, both of which are great deals. For the $15 you'd spend on a lobster roll, you can have a three-course meal at Miyake.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) at Kim's (261 St. John) are under $3 and one of my favorite cheap lunches around.

Visiting SF, Commis worth going to Oakland?

Thanks for everyone recommendations and suggestions. I made it out to Commis on Sunday (BART then cab, both ways) and had a fantastic meal at the bar.

I was seated at the far left, which is probably the best seat to watch Chef Syhabout and his team's calm, precise food preparation.

Highlights included the egg, smoked date, onion cream and malt amuse. This dish (or similar ones at Commis) has been much talked about. I love the flavor combinations and the richness of the perfectly poached egg yolk. I didn't get to the smoked dates until my third spoonful or so, and they really made the dish.

Next up was a chilled watercress soup. The soup itself had a pleasant, subtle flavor, which matched well with shaved asparagus. But the best part of this dish were the two raw Marin oysters wrapped in "milk skin." Two perfect briney bites. For some reason watching the preparation of this dish I kept thinking about Seinfeld and George's the "pudding skin singles."

The halibut tartare was wrapped in daikon and served atop a small pool of horseradish cream with kelp and coriander. The dish had a faintly Asian (for lack of a better term) flavor which I really enjoyed.

Another highlight was the grilled cod. A very "spring" tasting dish, it was served with english pea porridge, marinated favas and mint milk "tea" (or foam).

One odd dish was a "green fruit" salad of unripe tomatoes, pickled green strawberries, avocado and green olives. I'm still trying to figure out if I liked the olives in the context of this dish. Everything else in the dish worked together, but the olives seemed to be an odd and not entirely harmonious addition.

All told, I enjoyed pretty much every dish and the entire experience. The food was very different from the places at which I eat in Portland, Boston, and New York -- which is exactly what I was looking for.

(As an aside, two nights later I dined at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO -- a restaraunt that I cannot recommend enough if you are ever in the area).

3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

Visiting SF, Commis worth going to Oakland?

Thanks for all the replies. I am strongly leaning towards going. Also thanks for the suggestions on how to get there. I will definitely take BART or the bus (and will avoid walking from the bus station).

Dick and Jenny's..what time??

Especially during JazzFest, you'll have to either arrive soon after they open or around 9:30 ish. But, the wait at D&J's is half the fun. Enjoy some cold cocktails out on the patio.

Apr 30, 2010
portlandeats in New Orleans

Visiting SF, Commis worth going to Oakland?

I'll be in SF in the coming month on a Sunday and am trying to decide at what restaurant to eat dinner. Since it's a Sunday, my options are obviously a bit limited. I've read about Commis, and I am intrigued by the food descriptions, plus the fact that there is multi-course tasting menu at a food bar (I'll be dining solo).

Is it worth the trip across the bay to go to Commis? Or should I stick to SF proper? For some reference, last time I was in SF I dined at Bar Crudo and Canteen and loved them both. I've read the boards, but just can't decide on restaurants. Any and all suggestions welcome. Thanks!

Bar Crudo
655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

Portland, ME

Don't forget that Miyake is now serving lunch. It's far-and-away the best creative sushi in the city. After enjoying 4-5 omakase dinners over the past 2 years, I dined there a few weeks back and enjoyed its $15 lunch (they also have a $25 option; both great deals). Here's a quick write-up I did if you are interested: