Though I’m a native Pacific Northwesterner, I still get a little chilly when I return home from UCLA during school breaks. Such was the case this Thanksgiving. Bundled in a new Black Friday coat, I still wanted to explore Portland as I do every time I come home.
My top priority was Pine Street Market, which opened in spring 2016 but I didn’t hear about it when I was home this summer, so I leapt at the chance to try the indoor food market. I haven’t heard of many other markets in Portland (we aren’t Seattle after all) and a friend of mine who visited Portland stumbled upon it and recommended the ramen. I needed to check it out.
I headed northeast towards Pine Street and 2nd Avenue. The former horse-drawn carriage storage building has turned into a dark, homey space with string lights and wooden tables for patrons of nine local eateries to enjoy. Among the restaurant options are Portland’s best – Barista coffee in its spin off form Brass Bar and Salt & Straw ice cream in its spin off form Wiz Bang Bar. These are two of my Portland staples. Rounding out the mix is Kim Jong Smokehouse, Kure featuring acai bowls and juices, Pollo Bravo with Spanish-style cuisine, Marukin Ramen, OP Wurst and the best named Shalom Y’all with Israeli street food.
A hip ambience is added onto the traditional European style indoor market, what with string lights and the darker lodge-like atmosphere making a typical modern indoor market more homey and casual. The only complaint was that the building was too small – I can see this trend taking off in Portland and other cities to replicate communal style eating where you can bring the whole family to choose what they want to eat. Yet it was one floor of a rather small building and most tables were full.
I opted to try Marukin Ramen, so I could compare it to the ramen I had in Tokyo this summer. The menu is divided by day with about four specials listed under each day of the week, and it included some vegan options. I paid $10 for my Tokyo Shoyu ramen. The noodles could have been handmade but I preferred my ramen to be slightly more textured than their smooth almost buckwheat-like noodle.
The broth was salty and delicious, though in general I prefer Tonkotsu ramen. My toppings were definitely a highlight, with two pieces of nori (seaweed), standard herbs, two pieces of soft pork and a beautifully soft boiled egg with a gel consistency.
The shoyu ramen was the perfect dish to warm me up on a fall afternoon in Portland.
Though I only tried the food of a few restaurants at Pine Street Market, I can tell it’s going to be a hit. It is, however, more of a lunch place than dinner, since it’s loud and casual with to-go street food choices. The market represents a new established hipster culture that is cultivating all the city’s top companies in one space, reminding me of many international cities. I’ll be stopping by Pine Street Market next time I want to meet a friend for a trendy, cozy lunch date in Portland.