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Some may think that a hot bowl of noodle soup is not a great idea when it hits 95F in Portland, but I scoff in the face of those people. The best time for a bowl of hot noodles is every time. Other than at Shojin, there’s not really a good place in LA for vegetarian ramen. Hell, there may not even be a good place for pescetarian ramen in LA since we all know the best broths are made from melted pork. That’s why I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try some different broths at Boke Bowl when I got to Portland.

Vegetarian ramen from Boke Bowl

Will got the vegetarian ramen whose broth was made flavorful by caramelized fennel. It gave a deep sweetness to the broth. I really liked the pieces of eggplant in it and the grilled compressed rice-cake was an interesting addition. No, it wasn’t a minimalist bowl of ramen, but one of the better vegan ramens I’ve had so far.

Seafood miso ramen from Boke Bowl. Put an egg on it.

I got the seafood miso dashi ramen with a poached egg added in. The miso dashi was okay, but not great and a little salty even for ramen broth. The oil-poached shrimp had a strange consistency that made me think of pre-chewed shrimp. The egg, while poached perfectly, was cold, which was a strange contrast while it sat in my warm soup. What stood out in this bowl were the noodles, which had a nice wheat-y taste and a rustic consistency. The bamboo slices were fibrous and not as flavorful as I wanted them to be. I don’t think the addition of Thai basil on top really worked for me.

Pickle plate from Boke Bowl

As an appetizer, we ordered the plate of house-made pickles, which came with a bowl of rice and a package of dried seaweed. Overall, the pickles were great.  Some of the stranger ones like cherries and mushroom tasted surprisingly good.  I didn’t care for the wax beans though, since they were a bit tough. If I were to come again and it were so hot that I just couldn’t eat any hot soup (like that’s ever possible?) I’d probably order this as a light meal.  I do like my pickles. And Portland seems to like pickling things, as seen in this video:

Maybe I was spoiled by having the pork-heavy bowl of tsukemen at TsujitaLA, but the seafood ramen didn’t wow me. I probably would return for the vegetarian ramen though. It beats Shojin’s out of the water. I also like the decor, which is of the “bright, open, tech-startup” variety.

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Ave.
Portland, OR 97214
503 719 5698

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