Ramen Chain Marukin Opens Two Branches In Portland

This chain brings a Japanese favorite to the United States

Marukin Red, a spicy, creamy chicken broth ramen.

From our incredible pho scene to our numerous and varied Thai restaurants, there is no shortage of excellent Asian spots in Portland. Ramen has recently been making its way into our city too, with places such as Boke Bowl, Noraneko, and Boxer Ramen. As excellent as these places are, Marukin, the popular small chain of restaurants straight out of Tokyo, might just have them beat.

Marukin was founded in 1994, and has since spread into nine different locations throughout Tokyo. The Portland branch, having opened on April 1st, 2016, is the chain’s first US location on Ankeny directly next door to the fabulous Nong’s Khao Mong Gai. It was quickly joined by a second spot, downtown in Portland’s brand new Pine Street Market.

While the term “chain” might turn some off, this ramen shop transcends the description. The ramen noodles are handmade daily, while everything is made in house with locally sourced ingredients. The Portland branches are overseen by executive chef Masaji Sakai, who has been with Marukin since 2001. He moved to Portland to launch Marukin’s first U.S. endeavor.

Things you should know about ramen.

Marukin serves traditional ramen dishes, with daily rotating varieties, each $10. The best is the Marukin Paitan Shio; developed by Sakai himself, it’s a creamy, delicious chicken base with noodles, chasyu pork, pickled bamboo, nori seaweed, scallions, and, best of all, a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg. This yolk just soft enough to blend into the broth and make it even richer.

Every other option on the menu also manages to impress: the Marukin Red has a Paitan sauce and is filled with chile oil, creating a beautiful red color and spicy-sweet kick. The Miso ramen and Tokyo Shoyu are clear pork broths (with local Carlton Farms Pork), and are still rich and delicious without being oily. These bowls are served with the chasyu pork and egg, except the vegan options. The vegan choices come with a clear and creamy broth, as well, shiitake mushrooms for extra umami.

While a bowl of ramen is enough for a single meal for most, there are also sides. I recommend the beautifully breaded Japanese style fried chicken karaage ($8 for 7 pieces), and the Carlton Farms pork gyoza ($8 for 5 pieces). Beer, wine, and sake are available as well.

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FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit. Opinions herein belong to the author.