Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

And Then There Was Kukai

I was really looking forward to Kukai Ramen and Izakaya opening a place in Beaverton, Oregon. So much so that I was doing searches online and asking the company when they would open. Never heard from them. But when a friend mentioned they were finally ready and taking reservations for a soft opening I didn't hesitate to put my name in. I was ready for the area to have another good ramen shop to eat at.

Their menu looked interesting with a variety of ramen and other items offered.

My seat at the counter gave me a good view of the open part of the kitchen.

Much has been said about their decor. A bit of effort was put in such as the mural and hanging temple bells.

At the front entrance was what would be their nicely decorated bar once they obtained their liquor license.
 
The items were shipped over from Japan including these paper lanterns.

I started with their vegetable gyoza. Decent but I was expecting a little spice or other flavor inside them. Still not bad.

I went with the Miso Ramen. Which took some time to come out. The restaurant had a number of customers but wasn't busy thanks to the reservations. The other thing I noticed was it was pretty spicy. I asked because there are two versions on the menu, traditional and spicy. I asked and was told they did not even have any spicy prepared. I realize that some miso is spicy however this was up there on the heat scale. I have not tried this again so I don't know if it was just a mistake or not.

Since I wanted to try their Yuzu-Shio Ramen a return visit happened about a month later. I went at the start of lunch and was seated at the counter again.

I really liked this ramen. The yuzu was a nice counterpoint to the saltiness of the broth and refreshing in the hot weather we were having. I didn't like that it took at least twenty minutes to get me the piece of chashu that I ordered with the ramen. It was served a bit after I received my bowl.

Also bothersome was not long after that but well before I was done I was given the check. Made me feel like I was being pushed out of the door since there was a line of people waiting to be seated. Not my fault it took a long time getting my food. The server also tried to take my bowl before I was finished.

Still I was willing to try one more time to see if things were better or that what happened before was a fluke. So not long ago I stopped in at the start of dinner. Once again I was seated at the counter with a view of pots steaming. Seeing this made me anticipate my dinner. Although now looking at the photo it appears there's a bit of food spilled on the stove...

Since they now were serving beer and sake I ordered a glass of Asahi which they have on tap. I have to say this was the best part of my meal.

This time I went for the vegatable ramen since I would love to find a decent vegetarian ramen. The bowl looked interesting. The broth is shiitaki mushroom and kelp flavored with soy milk and ground sesame seeds. The toppings were seasoned with a little spice which was not a bad idea for this type of ramen.

They use Sun Noodles and the ones on top were looking pretty fine.

I added a soft boiled egg. Which was a good idea since eating this ramen was like drinking warm soy milk. I could barely taste sesame and there was no flavor of shiitake or kelp at all.

The bowl was packed with noodles. I wondered if it was just the vegetarian but in reviews I saw someone had this problem with the chicken. Along with the dish being mostly noodles was the fact that the noodles were not stirred while being cooked which resulted in clumps of them stuck together. This bowl was so bad I had to stop half way and when the server asked if I wanted a container I told him no.

Speaking of the service, also really lacking. I was seated at the counter (if you go alone or with two people they don't want to seat you at tables which is too bad). I sat there waiting to order while watching food go out to people who were seated at tables at the same time as I was. Finally a guy came over and asked me if anyone had taken my order. He took it and then I waited some more. A different person brought me my beer. Another person brought me my ramen. No one ever asked me if I wanted anything else. Finally the first server asked me if I wanted a container and then left the check. The whole time I was there he only said those three things. No one asked me how my food was. No one said thank you either.

So I can not recommend Kukai Ramen and Izakaya in Beaverton, Oregon. I have read some people had decent food and service at the tables but the reviews for service at the counter reflect my experiences. Sad because people sitting there are customers too. Also there seems to be quality control problems with the food that is being served not just with what I had but other people have mentioned in online reviews. Honestly I would not have gone back three times with most places. I really wanted this place to do well. But I can not say that it is. I was really disappointed.

At least there are other places to get ramen in the area and I do suggest giving some of theme a try if you are there and feeling the desire for a bowl of ramen.

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