My neighbor and I recently went to Nickelodeon to see the animated swan song of Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises. After that feast for the eyes and heart, the rest of me needed nourishment. We wandered up to Spring Street to Miyake Diner, former home of Miyake Food Factory. It was extremely dark and it didn’t appear anyone there besides Joe Ricchio behind the bar, almost giving the impression that it was closed, but I vividly recalled that they had late-night hours similar to Pai Men. All of the seating lines the bar with the exception of a solitary table tucked in the corner. The benches of the booth look like they might accommodate 8 or so, depending on stature. I had heard words like ‘intimate’ and ‘cozy’ thrown around in initial reviews and wondered if that expectation of limited space contributed to the lack of other diners that evening.
It was a pleasant surprise to see the kenchin udon I had tried at the Fore Street location also appear on this menu. My friend is a tough nut to crack with regard to noodle-based soups and told me numerous times that she hadn’t encountered anything in Portland that came close to what other parts of the US were producing. I told her this particular udon was good for the soul and thankfully she concurred. I started with a trio of sashimi and for those of you unfamiliar with sushi lingo, it is 100% raw, no rice and no seaweed wrapping. It consisted of tuna, salmon, and hamachi and was as fresh I would come to expect from anything with Miyake’s name on it. The next dish was the star of the show, the okonomiyaki, a savory pancake packed with scallion, cabbage, scallops, and BACON. I also tasted a lot of ginger throughout and it was topped with dried fish shavings called katsuobushi. The heat from a warm dish gives it the eerie appearance that it’s alive! This was absolutely delicious, filling, and only $8. Total win.
I was on the fence about dessert until I realized it wasn’t anything heavy. Yuzu-flavored sherbet which served as a perfect palate-cleanser. So quick lesson because I initially thought it was a misspelling on the menu board. Sherbet and sherbert are one and the same (fruit juice and ice with a small amount of milkfat) whereas sorbet is dairy-free…an important fact for my fellow lactards! Overall, I think the Diner is a wonderful addition to the Miyake restaurant family and last week they announced service for breakfast and lunch hours.