Ramen got quite the reputation in the United States as a “poor man’s food” simply because no one here knew anything about this east-Asian dish. The only exposure most people had were those dried blocks of noodles, three for a dollar, on the grocery store shelf in the 1980s.
And just like Top Ramen’s sister, the frozen burrito, if all you ever try is the fast and cheap versions, you’ll never grow to appreciate the food itself. Luckily for us, there has been a Ramen-Renaissance and this delicious hot noodle soup style has enjoyed a rebirth through an explosion of Ramen shops across the country.
Originally a Japanese dish created by using Chinese noodles, this dish started out as a cross-cultural experience. In fact, the name was “Chinese Soba” at the very first Ramen Shop in 1910 Tokyo but the essential dish, (wheat noodles in broth and topped with roast pork) likely crossed the East China Sea as far back as the mid-1800s.
Modern-day Ramen became popular due to a series of events after the end of WWII; a particularly disastrous rice harvest in 1945 led to reliance on wheat flour noodles instead of rice, and then returning soldiers and sailors brought this dish to foreign shores when they returned home.
Now there are more than 5000 Ramen shops in Tokyo, all stemming from that first shop in 1910. This simple Japanese dish originally called “Chinese Soba” is now popular in China where it is called, “Japanese Iamian” making the circle complete.
Here in the States, we’ve come a long way from that instant Ramen that plagued our college years and Ramen has become quite popular and appreciated, especially by a younger and more progressive crowd.
That is possibly why there are so many Ramen shops here in Portland and why it’s so difficult to pick the best Ramen in Portland.
The Best Ramen in Portland Oregon
Below is our picks for the top 10 best Ramen in Portland Oregon. To snap directly to a specific location, please click the corresponding link in the list below.
- Kayo’s Ramen Bar
- Boxer Ramen
- Afuri Izakaya
- Mirakutei Sushi & Ramen
- Kinboshi Ramen
- Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya
- Boke Bowl
- Hapa PDX Ramen & Whiskey
- Nama Ramen
- Mugen Noodle Bar
10. Kayo’s Ramen Bar
Headed north on Williams Ave in the Boise-Elliot district, keep an eye out on the right for one of the best Ramen spots in Portland, Kayo’s Ramen Bar.
A delicate mix between fast service and casual dining makes Kayo’s the perfect spot to dine when you’re looking for great food and want to keep moving.
The team at Kayo’s make their own broth and noodles from trans-Continental experience and cultural melding. The broths are slowly simmered for clarity, and the noodles were crafted over and over again until they arrived at the perfect blend they were looking for.
When you enjoy Ramen at Kayo’s, you’re not getting warmed up soup from a package, you’re being served fresh ingredients, lovingly crafted with pride and tradition.
The noodles may be traditional, but the menu offers both old-world charm as well as modern takes on Ramen. You can get the wildly popular Black TanTan Tsukemen which will please any and everybody with its hearty and savory flavors, or if you’re looking for something a little more experimental, give the Pineapple Giner Ramen a chance, the balance between between the ingredients is superb.
Another dish not to be missed is the Wasabi Smoked Salmon Ramen. Self explanatory in describing the ingredients, but until you taste it, indescribably good!
9. Boxer Ramen
One of the success stories of Portland’s rich Ramen restaurant landscape, Boxer Ramen opened its first location in 2013 to a rousing success and blossomed to multiple locations across Portland.
The pandemic of 2020 closed many shops and the empire of Boxer Ramen locations slowly came to an end as Portland ended in-restaurant dining.
One of the owners is quoted as, “nobody in the world orders Ramen to go” so a few locations were closed and converted to other style restaurants. However, Boxer Ramen survives at Kearney and a sister shop Boxer Bento on Harvey Milk. You can’t keep a good Ramen shop down, and this is some of the best Ramen in Portland.
The Ramen at Boxer is straightforward, slurp-inducing noodle love. The broth is rich and tasty with the Shiitake-Shoyu being one of the local favorites, the mushroom forward flavors and we’ve got to mention the incredible cabbage texture.
But if you’re looking for great Ramen as you can only get here at Boxer, order up the Tonkotsu-Shio, a pork broth savory Ramen that fills you with the delight of excellent noodles and accompaniments, the go-to poached egg really stands out here carrying a lot of the flavor in the dish.
8. Afuri Izakaya
Right between Old Town China town and Downtown. Just across from the wildly popular Voodoo Doughnuts you’ll find Afuri Izakaya, one of the best Ramen spots in Portland.
A Ramen shop in Japan, their principle is “Takamie” which is translated as always striving for the highest peak, working toward better.
This dedication to Takamie is why when Afuri expanded to Portland, it was not an easily weighed decision, Portland just “works” when it comes to Ramen.
A large piece of Afuri’s decision to allow the Portland expansion comes from the clean water from Mt. Hood. Have you ever had a Philly cheesesteak outside of Philly? Yeah, it’s good… but nothing compares to the regional favorite, and the Philly locals will tell you it’s because you can’t bake that bread without the local water.
The folks at Afuri Izakaya agree and they won’t allow anything less than perfection to touch their bowls or your spoons. You can get a variety of tasty dishes at Afuri Izakaya, great rolls, and sashimi, but you must have the Yuzu Ramen in Shio broth.
It is the house specialty and the uplifting hints of citrus against the rich savory broth is a battle worth enduring, the result is possibly the best Ramen in Portland.
7. Mirakutei Sushi & Ramen
Look no further than Mirakutei Sushi & Ramen for great food and a beautiful story of how traditions of the past carry into the innovations of the future to create one of the best Ramen shops in Portland.
Located in East Burnside just off Grand Ave, Mirakutei Sushi & Ramen has the pedigree of authentic Japanese roots in chef Hiro Ikegaya and now the continued development of young Portland tastes ensuring the development and success of this neighborhood staple.
Coming out to Mirakutei, you know you are in for an evening of class and delightful foods. Here you can relax and order “omakase” which is equivalent to “chef’s choice”, knowing that whatever they serve you will be of the highest quality and worthy of your admiration.
When serving Ramen, the house specialty is a “Paitan” style Ramen which is a rough translation of a Chinese word meaning white soup. This milky broth and curly noodle are fabulous when served as the House Tonkatsu. Another favorite in this house of fantastic traditions is the Sapporo Miso.
The garlic oil brings out the full flavors of the fish cake and really drives home the rounded flavors in the Ramen bowl. No matter what you order while at Mirakutei Sushi & Ramen, you know that your food will feed more than your belly, but also your well-being.
6. Kinboshi Ramen
When the wildly popular Japan-owned Portland Ramen restaurants “Marukin” closed up, the citizens of Portland were devastated, these were known as the best Ramen shops in Portland.
However, they didn’t stay closed up for long, in fact, they never really “closed” as much as they changed name.
Kinboshi Ramen split from the original name because chef Mayumi Hijikata saw her restaurants taking on a more “Portland-centric” menu with local ingredients and attitudes. The name change made sense, and the same excellence in Ramen remains open for business.
Chef Mayumi has vast experience in traditional Japanese cooking as well as French and Italian cuisine, so when Kinboshi Ramen offers up interesting dishes, it’s not simply out of whim or fancy, it is out of a trained and trusted palate from a world-class chef that knows how to put flavors together.
You can have the traditional savory favorite of Tonkotsu Shoyu, or as many of our fellow Portlanders look for, if you are a vegetarian, the Vegan Shio Tonyu is a soymilk broth filled with the best seasonal vegetables and mushrooms. You can get it “red” which is a spicy version of the same.
It is local favorites such as this that made Kinboshi Ramen split ways with the original and become its own “thing”, catering to the desires of the hometown in Portland.
5. Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya
More than a dozen locations of Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya shops dot the Pacific Northwest and each one of them are offering the most authentic Ramen experience you can have without having to get on a plane and fly to Japan.
In fact, they do just the opposite and fly one of their designers from Tokyo to set up each new location.
Have a seat at the Beaverton or Portland locations and this attention to detail ensures you are set up to enjoy not only the best Ramen in Portland, but the best Japanese experience you could possibly have.
The trick to Kizuki Ramen’s extraordinary broth is the roasting of the ingredients before the traditional boiling and simmering. This coaxes out a more robust flavor and the extended simmer brings that savory goodness to the forefront. This rich pork flavor is especially fragrant in the Hakata Tonkotsu, served with succulent pork belly for a decadent Ramen experience.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Veggie Ramen is lightly spiced and every bit as savory. Plenty of other traditional menu items are available as the name implies, Izakaya is more or less a Japanese version of “casual pub fare”, but we believe you’re in for some of the best Ramen in Portland here.
4. Boke Bowl
How far can you stray from the constraints of tradition and still comply with the strict ideas of what people here in Portland consider a Ramen dish? Well Boke Bowl has been pushing those limits for a while and so far, found no limit at all.
In fact, their willingness to incorporate unique ingredients and unusual dishes in their cooking has only made them more and more popular.
In the hip industrial center on the east bank, Boke Bowl operates their own Ramen shop their own way. You can get some of the best Korean Fried Chicken Wings as well as the best Ramen in Portland.
Before you even begin your Ramen experience, you can order the yam noodles instead of the traditional handmade wheat noodles if you prefer. The Pork Dashi is excellent as you’d imagine, the Eggplant in the Fennel Dashi makes for a great base, but Boke’s Duck Dashi is uniquely savory and intensely aromatic, and an absolute must-taste dish.
We know we’re here to tell you about the best Ramen in Portland, but while we’ve got your attention, we just HAVE to tell you about Boke Bowl’s miso butterscotch Twinkies. You won’t believe it, and you’ll want to order a dozen more to-go!
3. Hapa PDX Ramen & Whiskey
Okay, we admit, the name of the place got us hooked in. When you add in “and Whiskey” to just about anything, you’re going to get our attention.
It may have been the name that got us there but it was the food that has us coming back.
Hapa PDX Ramen & Whiskey is an evening worth seeking out, at their restaurant store-front on Gladstone Street or the mobile food truck, the menu is a Ramen lover’s delight and serves perhaps the best Ramen in Portland.
Small cozy tables with highlighted grains in the wood, dark panels on the walls, and lowered lights make for an intimate dining experience while the open kitchen and friendly staff contrast the cozy darkness with plenty of light.
The bar offers great whiskeys and sake, and the star of the show is the kitchen. Fresh Poke Bowls are a Hawaiian influence but any good Ramen stand should be judged by the classic pork dish. Hapa PDX Ramen & Whiskey’s “G-Special Ramen” has consistently been voted by patrons and Ramen lovers throughout the city as the best Ramen in Portland.
You’re not limited to the pork belly classic, try the Tonkotsu Ramen or the Shoyu Ramen, but you can’t go wrong with Hapa’s G-Special.
2. Nama Ramen
The crew that opened up Nama Ramen down in SouthEast Portland had one thing in mind when they set up shop, easy, simple Ramen. This is not their first rodeo, or even their second.
Operating two other successful Portland restaurants, they decided they wanted their new spot to be stripped down from all the distractions, good Ramen speaks for itself.
And so the Nama Ramen name was chosen because the desired style in this new restaurant would be the essence of that Japanese word. “Pure, raw, undiluted, unprocessed” These are the words the owners took to heart, and the menu, and more importantly the food, reflects that beautifully simple philosophy.
They do serve Poke Bowls and other Izakaya such as edamame and Kimchi, each worth checking out, but when you want to taste the best Ramen in Portland, peruse the Ramen menu and select from the simple and perfect dishes of savory soups we’ve all come to love.
The Shoyu Ramen is a clear brown soy sauce broth, served with pork, sprouts, and the like, while the Miso Ramen is a chicken base broth, otherwise served with the same toppings as the Shoyu.
You can get the Miso spicy, or you can get the Vegetarian Ramen which replaces the pork broth with a mushroom base. That’s the simplicity of Nama Ramen. Great choices, no distractions.
1. Mugen Noodle Bar
Technically in the Tigare/Beaverton area, we’re counting Mugen Noodle Bar as the general “Portland area” because we just had to include this in our list of the best Ramen in Portland.
This place is the epitome of what Portland is looking for in a restaurant, or any business for that matter.
It is family-owned, gathers its ingredients from local sources, integrates itself into the local community, and most importantly above all else, serves fantastic Ramen. The vegetarian, vegan, and organic options outnumber the rest and overall Mugen Noodle Bar just offers that special place of food with a heart, all available in a strip mall location.
Identifying as a noodle bar, Mugen offers plenty of variety in its menu. Rice-based traditional dishes such as Chicken Katsu-kare, Plum or Pear Sake, Egg Rolls, and edamame. But you came all this way for Ramen, and you will not be disappointed.
First and foremost on the menu is their Tori Paitan, a chicken-based version of the traditional pork-based tonkatsu broth. This fantastic creamy rich chicken broth base is available in many of their Ramen dishes and makes a distinct and favorable difference from the Ramen you’ll get at other shops. The menu has everything you’re looking for in the best Ramen in Portland, but that tori paitan is worth the drive to savor that flavor.
Our Final Thoughts: The Best Ramen in Portland Oregon
You have enough options in the area when looking for the best Ramen in Portland, some are traditional, some are exotic, and most offer more than just Ramen on the menu while others take pride in offering the simplest menu of straightforward Ramen only.
You can find strict traditionalists that take their roots and their menu directly from Japan, or you can find Portland originals that branch out into the unknown landscape of what lies beyond the traditional Ramen shop. No matter what you are searching for, you’ll find it here in Portland.
In the City of Roses, where there seems to be a hip and trendy spot on every corner, there is no shortage of Ramen spots for you to hit up and that means you’ll never run out of noodles to enjoy.
Take a chance on one of the experimental noodle shops when you’re out looking for something new, or if you’re wanting a quiet and relaxing night guaranteed to please, go to your old favorite standby that has your regular order on the menu.
The proliferation of Ramen shops has given us plenty of locations to choose from and menus as diverse as the people of Portland. Support your local Ramen shop, get out there and slurp with the best of us!