After quietly opening with limited hours in March, Tokyo-based ramen franchise Marukin Ramen officially opens its first location in the United States today in Inner Southeast. Marukin is now open daily, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the word on the street is the opening could signify a new era in Portland ramen. Here's the most fundamental information to know:
- Marukin has had 20 years to hone its ramen, and executive chef Masaji Sakai has been with Marukin since 2001. Marukin tells Eater great ramen is made through experimentation and using the freshest ingredients possible.
- In Portland, Sakai's vision will be carried out by chef Mayumi Hijikata (La Petite Chaise, Trattoria Al Bacco). This will be her first time ever being in the United States.
- Marukin will serve a rotating menu of ramens that will change daily. Here's the schedule.
- Vegetarian ramen and chicken-based ramens that do not involve pork are rare in Japan, and many ramenheads and food critics alike anticipate Marukin's pork-based broth being one of the most traditional Japanese ramens in Portland.
- Traditionally, Marukin's best-known ramen is its tonkotsu, aka Hakata-style, ramen, a ramen style that originates in the city of Hakata in Southern Japan. Unlike most ramens, tonkotsu ramens draw their flavors primarily from pork bones rather than the tare, a complex seasoning involving soy sauce, and the result tends to be a seriously meaty broth. Marukin says that, because its ramens center on local ingredients, the Portland version of tonkotsu, featuring Carlton Farms pork, will be different from the one it serves in Tokyo.
- Just for Portland, Marukin has created a special chicken-based ramen that doesn't involve pork. Thick and creamy, it appears front and center in Marukin's paitan ramen, which you can order seasoned with either salt or shoyu (a type of tare) and with optional toppings, including greens, seasoned bamboo shoots, chashu-roasted pork, leeks, green onions, a soft-boiled egg, and nori.
- You'll also find ramens blending chicken and pork broths at Marukin.
- Vegetarians and vegans will find a well-researched vegetable and soy milk-based broth.
In addition to ramen, Marukin will serve side dishes like gyoza (dumplings), chicken karaage (fried chicken), Ebi Tiger (prawns given a gingery kick and deep-fried karaage-style), pickles, rice with slow-cooked pork, and sautéed vegetables.
Marukin is opening a second location inside of Pine Street Market—so why Portland? "From the chef point of view," co-owner David Rademacher tells Eater, "the freedom to live a happy life in Portland lends to the fun and creativity in running a ramen business. We thoroughly enjoy going to all the small chef-owned restaurants in an environment where people just love going out to eat, laugh, and have fun."