PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For those looking for warm food during the cold weather this weekend, Afuri opened a ramen-focused restaurant that gives people an inside look into the cooking process.
The restaurant, located at 1650 Northwest 21st Avenue, seats about 100 people. Customers can easily look into the kitchen where the various broths are made and a noodle making window to match.
This is the fourth Afuri location in the Portland metro area.
“Everything is developing here in the last five years,” Afuri’s CEO Taichi Ishizuki said on why the restaurant opened in Slabtown. “It’s pretty new, but it’s good to be apart of those new community developments to share what we can offer to this community.”
On the menu, people can choose from eight different types of ramen. That includes yuzu shio, which is made with salt tare, chicken broth, chashu pork, egg, endive, bamboo shoot, yuzu, garlic and nori.
Fans of dumplings can also satisfy their cravings with buta, crispy pork and miso cashew gyoza, among others.
What about sushi? The restaurant will not offer sushi and plans to focus solely on the ramen and dumplings for this location.
Ishizuki said the timing was right to open a ramen focused location after years in the Portland area.
“When I opened the first Afuri in Southeast Portland, which was the first store, people were asking for a fork and knife to eat their ramen. At time, there was no ramen shop,” recalled Ishizuki. “It was not the culture of the ramen here in Portland, which was eight years ago. Now, a lot of ramen shops have opened and people now know.”
He added that what they now offer is a lot different because the “community is getting used to what the ramen looks like and what ramen is.”
“We can offer more or new things,” he explained. “If we offered too specific things at the beginning, then people wouldn’t get it.”
Despite new beginnings, the CEO is dealing with old problems. Ishizuki said the ongoing labor shortage in the market is proving to be tough to deal with when opening a new location.
“Any industry is the same because a lot of people left the industry during the pandemic. A lot of people left, no more restaurants,” he said. “Fortunately, we have most of the staff that has been working with us for three or years. I’m happy to help them.”
When asked what makes Afuri’s ramen stand out, Ishizuki said, it’s because “90% of the ramen shops use MSG to make the consistency, but [Aufri does] not.”
He also listed making homemade noodles as opposed to buying them frozen.
As for the future, Ishizuki said he plans to coordinate with ramen chefs from around the world to offer the Slabtown location as a “pop-up.” The goal would be to exchange ramen knowledge one noodle at time.