My sister and I were here for a late lunch yesterday. I’d never been but it has been a spot I wanted to hit up after seeing their menu last winter. My sister had been, for the ramen, and she had a pleasant experience.
We arrived at 3pm and I was surprised how busy the restaurant was. The place was pretty packed, which doesn’t take a whole lot since it’s not a large restaurant to begin with. There were a few two-person high tables available up by the open kitchen so we were seated immediately. There’s also outdoor seating which I am sure would be lovely in the warmer months.
Right away, I loved the brick wall on one side, the raised wood wall of the other side, within the narrow, high-ceilinged, open-feeling restaurant look. Labeled jars of spices lined a partition wall by the bathrooms. We sat so close to the action in the kitchen that the smells that wafted over and the sizzling sounds of cooking at high heat were very much part of the experience. This made my stomach rumble even though I’d already had my first lunch a few hours earlier.
A review of the menu revealed many unique and interesting items. We decided to get a few things and split. We went with a house salad, a shiitake mushroom sushi roll, a tuna roll, and gyoza. To drink my sister ordered the Yuzu Lemonade and I the Tandem Malt Iced Coffee.
Everything was terrific. The gyoza was a textural dream. Pan seared to perfection, they were soft on some sides and had a nice crispy crunch on the seared side. Great with the accompanying dipping sauce. The salad could have used more dressing, but it was was also very good and quite large. Our favorite thing of the entire meal was the shiitake + avocado roll. This is undoubtably the best vegetarian sushi roll I have ever had! Shiitake in a sushi roll is genius as it imparts a woody, earthy, savory taste while maintaining a firm softness. The tuna roll, while good, was not quite as memorable. The shiitake roll was definitely the highlight of the meal. After a bit of inquiry, I discovered that they are soaked in tamari and mirin prior to being used in the rolls.
Tandem Coffee Roasters Malt Iced Coffee was excellent. I could drink this every day of my life. An alcoholic version is available with vanilla bean vodka. I think that will be a must-try for a day when I don’t have a 5 hour drive ahead. My sister loved her drink, made with sake, and said it wasn’t too strong and had good flavor.
Service was great and prices were very reasonable. I will be back and I want to try the ramen next time!
188 State St
Portland, ME 04101