First Look at Boxer Ramen

Micah Camden and Katie Poppe are ready to unleash downtown Portland's newest ramen shop, with noodles, amazing mochi, and a side of neo-pop cool. We got an early look at the vision and menu set to debut Nov 1.

By Karen Brooks October 23, 2013

Quirky murals, seasonal salads, and colorful mochi signal the starting line for Boxer Ramen.

The wait is nearly over. On November 1, Micah Camden and Katie Poppe will swing open the hot pink door to Boxer Ramen in downtown's Union Way.

All Camden projects come with an aura of anticipation and mystery. Since 2005, he reimagined izakaya (Yakuza), Naomi Pomeroy (Beast), fast food (Little Big Burger), and donuts (Blue Star Donuts) with considerable spunk, originality and design savvy. The 30-seat Boxer Ramen may be his biggest hit yet.

We peeked into the space and extracted some exclusive details on the secretive project. 

• The look: Think ramen shops meets Lucky Peach magazine. Hot pink door, turquoise floor, fir tables arranged with low, Playskool-ish fir stools and tattoo-riffing, neo-pop murals of three Japanese girls, simulataneously cute and devilish, each with a signature chicken, pig, and tuna leaping from a ramen bowl (local artist Trisha Grantham did the clever handiwork).

• The ramen: Let the arguments begin. Camden is going his own way, blending tradition with playfulness in two house versions. One will blend two schools of ramen thought, the pork-milky tonkotsu and the soy-sauce-forward shoyu ramen. The other, dubbed "Really spicy miso ramen" goes its another way altogether with the warm rush of Calabrian chilies, Parmesan cheese, and butter in the broth. To show he's not messing around, Camden is flying up noodles from LA's, Sun Noodle Co. The company supplies noodles—made to customer's specifications—to top Southern Californian ramen shops like Tsujita and Daikokuya.

• The food and booze: The small menu includes a next-generation sunomono pickle plate jumping with pickled pears, fennel, and shitakes instead of the usual cucumbers and shrimp; Japanese fried chicken and curry; and seasonal salads like kabocha squash with spicy candied walnuts. A handful of craft beers are on tap, along with the usual bottled beers and sake. 

• The mochi: An entire blackboard menu is devoted to mochi, super delightful gluten-free Japanese ice cream treats coated in stretchy, chewy, rice flour dough. The selection is flown in from the mochi temple supreme: Bubbies Handmade Ice Cream and Desserts in Maui. Expect seven pastel hues, blueberry to pistachio to a shatteringly delicious passionfruit, plus a seasonal variety.

• Free ramen giveaway—October 31: Yes, free ramen. Just show up at 1035 SW Stark Street, noon to 3 pm.

• Hours: Boxer Ramen is scheduled to open November 1 with lunch service, Monday through Saturday from 11:30 am to 2 pm, and dinner  5-10 pm nightly.

Boxer Ramen
1035 SW Stark Street

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