Renowned izakaya Biwa announced its plans to close today in a newsletter update. “On Saturday June 9th Biwa, our strange little monster, is closing after dinner service at 10,” the newsletter reads, “But, you know, forever…” The entire post, signed by owners Gabe Rosen and Kina Voelz “and everyone that is Biwa,” is a beautiful read, attributing gratitude to Castagna restauranter Monique Siu, reminiscing on their meeting and the closure of her cafe earlier this spring.
Biwa opened 11 years ago, and quickly turned heads nationally. Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetit has publicly applauded the fried kimchi and kara age, and the restaurant was a stalwart on the Eater PDX 38 for several years. The restaurant also made news as an early adopter of an added “health and wellness” charge to diners’ bills, which it enacted to much media attention in 2013.
In 2016, Biwa switched things up, moving into a different space in the same building and splitting its concept in two: One half was a bar with casual fare, called Parasol, while Biwa Izakaya offered a more upscale, omakase take on Japanese food. That switch didn’t pan out: Parasol Bar closed in 2017, and Biwa reverted to its original format. Its sister restaurant, Noraneko, is still going strong, for those craving late-night ramen under the Hawthorne bridge. For now, you can visit Biwa for a final bento, udon, or snackable fried kimchi for the rest of the week.
• Biwa [Official]
• Biwa [Mailchimp]
• Q&A: Gabe Rosen on Biwa’s ‘Health and Wellness’ Charge [EPDX]
• All Biwa coverage [EPDX]