Chicken ramen bowls and spicy tuna rolls have arrived in St. Johns. Mikasa Sushi & Ramen opened this week on North Lombard, serving a small variety of ramen and sushi in the space once home to The Sudra.
Mikasa comes from Fransis Odaya, a Portland Japanese restaurant vet — the chef spent time at Bamboo Sushi as a chef de cuisine, also helping open Akasaru with Portland ramen restaurateur Tommy Shin. “The concept of Mikasa is affordable, good food that anyone can enjoy. It’s nothing more than that,” Odaya says. “So when I was looking for a location, I was looking for a place where... there weren’t many places where people could find sushi or ramen.” St. Johns somewhat fits that bill: Outside of sushi cart Kazumi and the occasional bowl of ramen at Mama San Soul Shack, St. Johns is pretty limited on the sushi and ramen front.
The opening menu at Mikasa specializes in two foundational ramen broths: a chicken paitan — a cloudy, rich broth — and a vegetarian broth made with mushrooms and sunflower seeds. Toppings range from pork belly to the “spicy bomb,” aka a mixture of chiles to add for extra kick.
On the sushi side, the restaurant sticks to basic rolls and five restaurant-specific maki. Odaya is particularly happy with the Mikasa roll, filled with spicy tuna and panko shrimp, with a wrapping of Oregon albacore and salmon on the outside. The roll is finished with a mustard-soy sauce and finely chopped basil.
The restaurant’s menu will expand with time, but Odaya wants to keep things simple. He plans to add a handful of sake options and perhaps a draft beer, but like the Sudra before it, most of the bar options will come from the neighboring Garrison cocktail bar. The counter-service restaurant delivers ramen and sushi to the outdoor patio, which means St. Johns can get sushi and a cocktail al fresco. Mikasa is open from 5 to 9 p.m. at 8777 N Lombard Street.
• Mikasa [Instagram]