Boke Bowl is the quintessential Portland food experiment. Two years ago, a pair of roving ramenistas staged pop-up dinners with fanatical meat craft and a laid-back attitude. Fourteen months ago, an east-side brick-and-mortar was born with clever design, communal eating, and democratic choices for carnivores, veg-heads and gluten-frees alike.
Faster than you can chopstick into chef Patrick Fleming’s fried chicken ramen or fork into fruity, spicy brussel sprouts salad, eaters poured through the door with the force of a Portland windstorm.
Now, plans for a branch dubbed “Boke West” have been finalized at Northwest 18th and Northrup Street. Fleming and his front-of-the-house biz partner, Brannon Riceci, will occupy 1,450 square feet on the ground floor of the Addy, a still-under-construction apartment building, with plans to serve lunch and dinner daily beginning in April.
Also on board: Boke designers Mark Annen, a sought-out name in local restaurant design, and the creative Always With Honor design company. With 48 seats, Boke West will be roughly the same size as Boke Southeast, while adding 20-plus outdoor seats, booths, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
Staying put is Boke’s family-friendly food formula: house and seasonal ramens (duck confit to house-smoked tofu); mix-and-match steamed buns, from peanut butter and jelly to the awesome new BBQ brisket (think Korean BBQ meets Yiddish grandmother); creative sides and salads; bambino bowls; and Boke’s popular house-bottled carbonated cocktails.
Boke West should find another ready-made audience in suddenly surging Northwest Portland. The neighborhood, culinarily moribund for years, is becoming a food destination once again as east-of-the Willamette players take notice of an area starved for the creative thinking that long ago fled across the river. Salt & Straw, Barista, and the Meadow have already planted outposts. On February 14, a new iteration of Lyon-inspired St Jack swing opens at 1610 NW 23rd Ave, between NW Raleigh and Savier Streets.
“Andy Ricker hits one kind of note,” says Fleming, of Pok Pok’s textbook Thai approach. “We hit something altogether different, crossing the line of Asian comfort food. I put siu mai, Japanese ramen, Southern fried chicken, and a Thai vinaigrette on one menu. It’s Portland style.”