Miyake: where an urchin attack survivor got her revenge
I never intended this blog to be just about the news - so with this post I branch out into one of my other passions in life: food. Living in Portland has spoiled me a bit and turned me into an aspiring foodie. In case you haven't heard - the restaurant scene here is unbelievable. Bon Apetit recently named it the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year -- and their article only scratches the surface when it comes to endless dining options here. As my Instagram feed, wallet, and waistline would indicate -- I enjoy going out to eat, and I'm constantly trying to sample new things. Instead of just posting pictures of my food, I'm going to write about some of my experiences.
Miyake on Fore Street was one of those restaurants that was always "on my list" of places to try. The Japanese restaurant opened in 2007, before Portland's foodie explosion -- and is still considered the best sushi experience in town. Located next to the swanky Portland Harbor Hotel, Miyake has the look and feel of a restaurant in Manhattan -- but has the advantage of offering fresh, local seafood from Maine.
My expectations were sky high, and Miyake more than lived up to the hype. I can't tell you how many times my boyfriend and I said "This is so good!" while sticking chop sticks into each other's food. It was easily the best Japanese food we've ever had. We ordered from the four course tasting menu, which was $60 per person. If you plan to order drinks, dessert, and apps -- be prepared for an expensive experience.
Let me cut to the chase: the best thing we ate was the Hamayaki. It was a mix of sushi rice, lobster and scallop meat, some deliciously spicy sauce, baked in a large scallop shell. It took a bit of restraint not to lift the shell to my lips and lick it clean. After raving to our waitress, she said it's one of the most popular menu items, and some people even order it for dessert! If you try one thing at Miyake -- make it this!
The other memorable menu item was the grilled uni - otherwise known as sea urchin. I have a bit of unique relationship to uni. While snorkeling in St. John a few years ago, I got stung by a very large urchin and got about 50 of its spines stuck in my hand. It was like getting a bunch of splinters -- except these splinters turned your skin blue and made your fingers swell to the size of sausages. To this day, there are still a few sea urchin fragments in my joints. At the time, the injury was extremely ugly and painful. But I was later able to joke about it, and vowed to someday eat a sea urchin to get my revenge.
I told the waitress I've been wanting to try urchin and asked her about the grilled uni. She described the texture as "unique," which is not exactly a ringing endorsement -- but I have to agree with her... unique was the best word for it. The uni was cooked in a little wooden box -- so A+ for presentation. Uni is the inside of the urchin, not the outer spikes -- and resembles a cow tongue. There was a nice sauce with scallions on top, but it was the texture that turned me off. It was creamy, a little squishy... and not my favorite thing. But now I can say I've tried it, and can move on!
And no, my hand didn't tingle or anything when I ate the urchin.
The dishes are small at Miyake -- and you'll need to order 3 or 4 plates to feel full. We had sea weed salad, flounder, sword fish, pork belly, crab cake, and two sushi rolls: ceviche and eel avocado. I have eaten eel avo rolls at many sushi restaurants, and never tasted eel meat quite like this: very flavorful and meaty. For dessert, I got a chocolate cheesecake (very small but good) and Jeremy got a tiramisu with matcha powder on top. I don't like sake but Jeremy gave it a try -- and looked a little ridiculous holding this little glass, pinky up!
Price: high end. Good for a special occasion dinner
Service: very good! Our waitress was attentive and knowledgeable, answering lots of questions about the menu
Atmosphere: quiet, intimate. We actually got seated next to someone I had interviewed for a story a few years ago, and it was nice to chat with her and her husband. They were out for their anniversary dinner - and said "Are you celebrating something?" To which we said -- Saturday!
Food: over the top delicious