January 21, 2014

First Look at Miyake Diner

Prof. A. of Portland Food Map and I continued our opening night dining traditions, turning out on an otherwise quiet Monday to visit the newest Miyake restaurant. The Diner is in the same spot on Spring Street as the Food Factory Miyake, the original sushi bar. Each Miyake restaurant has a different concept, the big fine-dining sushi bar, the more casual and raucous noodle bar, and now the diner, in the style of a Japanese izakaya. 

The diner is even smaller than the original Miyake, with eight stools at a long wooden bar and a wooden booth in the corner that theoretically seats eight (it looked maxed out with six). Joe Ricchio is behind the bar, so I asked him to select a sake for me. There are five sakes available by the glass, nine by the bottle, and a few selections of white, red, and rose wine. Bottled beer and tea are also available. 

The menu is small plates from $4 to $12.50. We tried a few dishes - the octopus salad seen below, a cooked eel and eggplant dish, a scallion, scallop, bacon egg pancake, and beef curry. 

If you've had any of Chef Miyake and crew's food, you know that quality is not an issue here. Everything we had was very good. Instead, the food is surprising. The firm, tender octopus with crunchy onions in savory broth. Eggplant and eel paired together. Springy scallops and smoky bacon with sharp pickled ginger. The complex, unexpected flavors of the curry. 

These dishes aren't like any other bar food in Portland, and combined with the intimate, cozy atmosphere, the whole experience is a lot of fun. Of course, anytime Joe's involved, there's fun. I'm looking forward to returning with friends to share small plates and to see what other surprises the menu holds.