The first Oregon location of Kukai, the popular Japanese ramen chain, officially opened in the new Timberland Town Center on June 1. Here the pork and chicken broths are simmered more than 10 hours and appear in about a dozen different bowls, with the "extra rich" styles limited in availability. Noodles come in three styles — thin, wavy and flat — from cult-favorite Sun Noodle. Rounding out the options are rice bowls and izakaya-style offerings like pork buns, octopus dumplings, and kara age.
Ron Yan, who owns the Beaverton outpost with his wife, says they worked with a designer to create a customized look for the space. "It's a franchise, so there were certain elements that had to be consistent," he says, "but ours is unlike any other." For example, most Kukai locations have depictions of the god of thunder and god of wind from Japanese mythology in the decor. Usually these deities are represented with colorful paintings, "but we wanted it to be more low-key and Northwest, so we used laser-cut wood," says Yan.
The divider is special, too. "We wanted it to have an element of a traditional ramen shack. If you think of a Japanese ramen shack, you see lanterns hanging off it and a low hanging roof with traditional tiles. The divider is made with those traditional tiles incorporated."
Kukai Ramen & Izakaya: 11830 NW Cedar Falls Dr., Portland; Hours: open daily from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.