Jump to content


Photo

Yuzu


  • Please log in to reply
76 replies to this topic

#61 2Curious

2Curious
  • Members
  • 10 posts

Posted 10 November 2009 - 01:31 PM

Just to throw in my two cents to the Yuzu review section...

I have to report on Yuzu in context here... I'd moved to Portland in 2001 from the LA area, and after about a year here, began to have a hankering for true Japanese ramen like you wouldn't believe... I dreamt about it incessantly, to the point where I started trying to make (unsuccessfully) ramen from scratch at home.

And then, Biwa appeared on the scene, and I couldn't get there fast enough once I heard that they were trying to open a ramen restaurant. I think I went the second day they were officially open. I tried their shoyu ramen, and I almost wanted to cry because it was so far from what I wanted/expected in a ramen restaurant.

Biwa has improved by leaps and bounds since that first try. Last time I went about a month ago, I had a decent bowl of ramen, with some very good noodles, but their weakness has always been their broth. And although their broth has improved, it still doesn't quite hit the heights of umami and gummy goodness that you really need for a good ramen. The broth at Biwa is lighter, smokier, and a bit more nuanced, but really, that isn't what ramen's supposed to be about. Ramen is lunchtime CHOW for the Japanese. It is GRUB. It is not meant to be subtle. It should fill you up. It should keep you going until dinner. The broth should be thick, almost viscous, and bursting with umami and kombu, MSG be damned. On these accounts, Biwa fails, as their broth really just doesn't have enough backbone.

Yuzu's broth on the other hand is great, and that's what makes me really feel like I'm eating a real bowl of ramen. Ideally, as you NOISILY slurp up a mouthful of noodles you should get a nice little mouthful of soup as well. The broth at Yuzu is thick enough to cling to the noodles enough to actually do that. The chasu pork that ramen is supposed to come with is pork tenderloin marinated with mirin and soy sauce, and Yuzu's version gets it right. It is NOT supposed to be pork belly, at least not traditionally. Granted, the noodles could be better, but they have enough texture and curl to do the job, which is really to hold a bit of the soup to your mouth.

So, in the end, it comes down to this. The individual parts of a bowl of ramen at Biwa are better. The broth is subtler, more refined. The noodles are better. They use pork belly. But it doesn't have the same "Japanese fast food grub" feel and taste that Yuzu has, and Yuzu's broth is wonderful. If you sat down a Japanese person in front of a bowl of each, he would recognize Yuzu as more familiar to his taste buds.

And that is why I love it so.

#62 Jill-O

Jill-O
  • Moderator
  • 7,144 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Eastside, on the cusp between N and S

Posted 10 November 2009 - 02:56 PM

Thanks for that, 2Curious! When I lived near Yuzu I never made it there, but it is still on my list...
Never give up! Never surrender!

#63 WAfoodie

WAfoodie
  • Members
  • 548 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 10 November 2009 - 03:37 PM

Enjoyed your two cents....could almost taste the food differences from your description and it was helpful to hear from someone with a "Tampopo" quest for the best ramen.

#64 ponzu

ponzu
  • Members
  • 15 posts

Posted 11 November 2009 - 09:58 AM

Just to throw in my two cents to the Yuzu review section...

I have to report on Yuzu in context here... I'd moved to Portland in 2001 from the LA area, and after about a year here, began to have a hankering for true Japanese ramen like you wouldn't believe... I dreamt about it incessantly, to the point where I started trying to make (unsuccessfully) ramen from scratch at home.

And then, Biwa appeared on the scene, and I couldn't get there fast enough once I heard that they were trying to open a ramen restaurant. I think I went the second day they were officially open. I tried their shoyu ramen, and I almost wanted to cry because it was so far from what I wanted/expected in a ramen restaurant.

Biwa has improved by leaps and bounds since that first try. Last time I went about a month ago, I had a decent bowl of ramen, with some very good noodles, but their weakness has always been their broth. And although their broth has improved, it still doesn't quite hit the heights of umami and gummy goodness that you really need for a good ramen. The broth at Biwa is lighter, smokier, and a bit more nuanced, but really, that isn't what ramen's supposed to be about. Ramen is lunchtime CHOW for the Japanese. It is GRUB. It is not meant to be subtle. It should fill you up. It should keep you going until dinner. The broth should be thick, almost viscous, and bursting with umami and kombu, MSG be damned. On these accounts, Biwa fails, as their broth really just doesn't have enough backbone.

Yuzu's broth on the other hand is great, and that's what makes me really feel like I'm eating a real bowl of ramen. Ideally, as you NOISILY slurp up a mouthful of noodles you should get a nice little mouthful of soup as well. The broth at Yuzu is thick enough to cling to the noodles enough to actually do that. The chasu pork that ramen is supposed to come with is pork tenderloin marinated with mirin and soy sauce, and Yuzu's version gets it right. It is NOT supposed to be pork belly, at least not traditionally. Granted, the noodles could be better, but they have enough texture and curl to do the job, which is really to hold a bit of the soup to your mouth.

So, in the end, it comes down to this. The individual parts of a bowl of ramen at Biwa are better. The broth is subtler, more refined. The noodles are better. They use pork belly. But it doesn't have the same "Japanese fast food grub" feel and taste that Yuzu has, and Yuzu's broth is wonderful. If you sat down a Japanese person in front of a bowl of each, he would recognize Yuzu as more familiar to his taste buds.

And that is why I love it so.


Couldn't agree more. I also moved from Torrance Ca recently. I would say that Yuzu ramen would be just okay in LA. Nowhere near the level of say Cafe Asa, but in Portland it is an order of magnitude better than anything else I've tried including Hakatamon, and biwa. It tastes like a real bowl of Ramen Shop Ramen.

All of the other dishes I've tried at Yuzu also live up to this mark as well. The yaki Nasu with ginger or the karaage, or buta shoga yaki taste like a version that you'd get at any neighborhood isakaya in Tokyo. Its not exceptional but it tastes japanese.

Hiroshi by the way also passes the japanese litmus test.

Biwa on the otherhand tastes like japanese food as interpreted by a western chef. It's interesting but it is not japanese food.

#65 Robert Lucas

Robert Lucas
  • Members
  • 4 posts

Posted 19 February 2010 - 03:24 PM

So I tried to make it to Yuzu the other night (finally)... and I am not sure but, I think it may be gone as I could not find it! the strip mall had an empty space with a sign that is missing... I tried to call the number but could not understand the person on the other end... can anyone confirm or deny this?!

#66 Rollin

Rollin
  • Members
  • 44 posts

Posted 19 February 2010 - 03:59 PM

So I tried to make it to Yuzu the other night (finally)... and I am not sure but, I think it may be gone as I could not find it! the strip mall had an empty space with a sign that is missing... I tried to call the number but could not understand the person on the other end... can anyone confirm or deny this?!

I was just by there yesterday picking up my dry cleaning. They weren't open yet but
their hours we're posted in the window.
They are the third door to the left of the cleaners. They don't have much
of a sign, just Yuzu on the door.

#67 Flynn

Flynn
  • Secondary Admin
  • 3,681 posts
  • Location:SW Portland

Posted 19 February 2010 - 04:04 PM

I'm in official cardiac arrest until this is cleared up. I will cry a single Native-American-in-the-trash-commercial tear if they close.

Phone goes to stock-Qwest-message, but she usually starts answering around 5:30pm.

#68 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 19 February 2010 - 04:48 PM

I'm in tigard eating multi linners right now and will try to go that way home to check.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#69 Robert Lucas

Robert Lucas
  • Members
  • 4 posts

Posted 20 February 2010 - 10:08 AM

I apologize for any possible life threatening situations I may have cause anyone, but like I said, I just couldn't find it, so it probably really is there. Now i know to look for the small storefront with no sign that just says yuzu on the door.

Carry on everyone, nothing to see here! :wub: :lol:

#70 Flynn

Flynn
  • Secondary Admin
  • 3,681 posts
  • Location:SW Portland

Posted 25 February 2010 - 09:46 PM

Still open, still delicious, still crowded. It's to the left of Country Korean, and it does say Yuzu on the door (I've never noticed that before).

#71 Calabrese

Calabrese

    Desaparecido

  • Banned
  • 5,970 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gone

Posted 26 May 2010 - 02:16 PM

Finally made it to Yuzu last night for the first time with a friend. We each got a sake of our choice (small) and shared 5 yakimono dishes (grilled black cod, baked potato, green onions wrapped in rib eye steak, smokey egglant, and squid with mayo, lemon and ginger).

Overall, I liked it and would go back. The cod was by far the best item. I liked the rib eye a lot too. The eggplant was a bit raw for my tastes but the shaved veggie on it (could not ID) and the smokey component were nice. I liked the baked potato better than dining companion. He said it had been better in the past. The squid conceptually was a great idea but it was too rubbery. I know well cooked squid is not like that. Mixing the mayo with fresh ginger and applying lemon to squid was a nice set of flavors.

The sake list is very nice in deed. My share of tab (includes sake) pre-tip was $31.

#72 Flynn

Flynn
  • Secondary Admin
  • 3,681 posts
  • Location:SW Portland

Posted 26 May 2010 - 02:25 PM

They've upgraded the ramen noodles to what appear to be the thin and flat version available in the Uwajimaya fresh case. Nice step up for an already solid bowl of tonkotsu.

#73 Calabrese

Calabrese

    Desaparecido

  • Banned
  • 5,970 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gone

Posted 26 May 2010 - 04:38 PM

I forgot to mention, we got there sometime after 6 and left around 7:15ish (did not totally track) and it wasn't crowded at all last night.

#74 Angelhair

Angelhair
  • Moderator
  • 7,660 posts
  • Location:downtown
  • Interests:film, cooking, literature

Posted 28 May 2010 - 11:47 AM

They've upgraded the ramen noodles to what appear to be the thin and flat version available in the Uwajimaya fresh case. Nice step up for an already solid bowl of tonkotsu.


Had a bowl of that ramen last night. OMFG...very very very very very good. The rich broth is so satisfying and unctuous. :thumbsup: :drool:

BTW, we were the only ones in there at 6pm. Then again, it was raining really hard in the 'tron and that might've kept the diners at home.

#75 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 28 May 2010 - 12:26 PM

Maybe people have just stopped showing up without a reservation. I know I've been dissuaded from going.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#76 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 18 March 2011 - 11:29 PM

So, just to get this out of the way: fuck off, Flynn. Okay, now onto the ramen....

Posted Image

This is the aforementioned ramen, the tonkotsu. This is the simplest version with chashu, green onion, pickled ginger, seaweed, memna, and noodles. The broth is creamy, salty, and sweet. It wasn't as rich and porky as I had remembered it. I think the salt and MSG content can be tricky and when you get it with the kakuni (the stewed pork belly), it makes the dish seem porkier than it otherwise would be. The broth just doesn't have much real meat flavor and to me tastes only marginally better than a place like Osakaya, Koji, or Miho. However, they do give you some minced garlic and sesame on the side and this makes a surprisingly significant difference to the overall enjoyment of the broth by making the lack of actual meat flavor less important. (As does togarashi or white pepper, but everyone has that.) The chashu isn't much better than many places, a little dry, a little bland, but it's good enough. The kakuni is definitely the way to go.

Posted Image

The noodles, though, are better than many places. I couldn't tell the difference one day later between these and the ones at Hakatamon. They're thin, fairly white, a bit soft and delicate, but good.

Posted Image

In many ways, I think the shoyu ramen is a better representative of its type than the tonkotsu. The bowl comes with the same chashu as above, nori, memna, green onion, and an excellent boiled egg, still a little creamy in the center. The broth is salty, a little sweet and woody with an underlying dashi/fish flavor that reminds me of the Tokyo style.

Posted Image

The slightly curly noodles, probably a commercial fresh version, are very similar to those at Mirakutei/Biwa/Miho. They're good enough.

They're solid bowls of soup, but clearly a step back from the better bowls in town, imo.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#77 Flynn

Flynn
  • Secondary Admin
  • 3,681 posts
  • Location:SW Portland

Posted 19 March 2011 - 06:51 AM

So, just to get this out of the way: fuck off, Flynn. Okay, now onto the ramen....

:rolleyes: "May all your future bowls of ramen hail from Toshi" - ancient Japanese proverb.

We should've gotten the shio tebayaki from Yuzu rather than the karaage. And almost anything other than the karaage at Toshi would've been an improvement. Biwa and Mirakutei are still the kings 'o karaage in town.