September News!!

We finally got a soft serve machine!

Thanks to Kina’s tireless efforts now you can enjoy our delicious new Japanese style genmai vanilla sofuto creamu, swirled into sundaes with strawberries, sesame and butterscotch, granola and a cherry on top…

Unbelievably exciting!!! (finally!!!)

Kotori at the opening night of TBA!

We’re excited to announce that Kotori will be PICA’s Time-Based Art Festival’s opening night pop-up restaurant. We are going to serve favorites from the sumibiyaki grill alongside some Biwa and Noraneko classics from 8:30PM until 1:00AM at PICA’s new home at 15 NE Hancock.

From September 08–18, 2016, TBA will activate the city of Portland with contemporary art projects that bring artists and audiences together, creating a vibrant community through live performances, music, screenings, workshops, talks, and visual art installations.

We’re thrilled to be there on opening night, at PICA’s new home no less, and hope you will please join us!

Photo by Heather Hawksford

Photo by Heather Hawksford

Shazi’s Persian Corn Recipe!

The inimitable Shazi at Noraneko told us about a super simple and wonderful way with corn on the cob. It is all that Gabe and Kina eat on their days off lately, and we have been serving it at Kotori to great acclaim!

It’s comically easy:

Light a pile of charcoal and let the flame die down and the embers get nice and hot. Shuck some corn on the cob—as many pieces as you want—and place them directly in the coals. Cook until charred, blistery, delicious and covered with ashes and stuff. Remove from coals and rinse all of the stuff off of them in a bowl of really salty salt water (a little saltier than sea water) and enjoy. We have been eating it just like this, and find it intensely satisfying, but we suppose that you could butter them before serving and it wouldn’t be that bad (we haven’t tried yet…) Let us know!

Posole Ramen, Kimchi Tamales, Torta Katsu, and More!

An Interview with Gabe and Noraneko’s New Chef Carl!

Chef Carl and the Biwa Double Burger

Chef Carl and the Biwa Double Burger

We have a new chef! Carl Krause is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and has worked at exciting restaurants in Hawaii, Chicago, and Boston before choosing Portland as his home. Last summer he ran our open-air fantasy chicken snack world, Kotori (more to come on that soon!). After a stint with the nice folks at Nomad, he’s now back in our family as chef of Noraneko.

Some compelling outtakes from Gabe’s interview with Chef Carl…

Gabe: What’s your favorite food?
Carl: Don’t ask me that.

Gabe: How do you like your Italian beef?
Carl: Dipped, obviously.

Gabe: What’s your dream job?
Carl: This is my dream job.

Gabe: Who do you think it would be really cool to have worked for?
Carl: Marco Pierre White.

Gabe: You’re a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?
Carl: Yes.

Also, Chef Carl is an avid gardener who enjoys the delicious Vietnamese restaurants of his new home turf in the Jade District AND he is already bringing fun vibrations to the menu at Noraneko like the curry ramen AND…

Introducing the Noraneko Sandwiches!

At Noraneko we are very inspired by the great 90s-era Portland casual spots like, Dot’s, The Roxy, Escape From New York, etc, that Gabe ate at all the time with John and Donnie and company when he first moved to town and was still real skinny.

To us these places are fun, alternative diners where you can hang out with your friends late at night (maybe intoxicated) and eat and have good times and listen to music and stuff... possibly go home and play video games after… They are the magical interstitial space between bars and restaurants that are at the heart of what we seek at Noraneko, in the guise of a ramen shop.

Sandwiches:

We like eating ramen in the summer, but we realize that maybe you don’t and anyway we thought that some nice sandwiches would be a good way to round out the menu (and would kind of be our version of soup and sandwich at the diner.)

Gabe has also been obsessing a little over veggie burgers and bratwurst lately, and the cooks keep making these sandwich experiments so we went for it, made the big jump and brought in a heavy hitter from the suburbs of Chicago (Chef Carl) to make us some real sandwiches…

Behold:

midwest bratwurst
homemade duluth-style (ask nick & jamie)

future burger
trendy veggie burger with traditional
burger stuff and our secret special sauce

torta katsu
delicious pork cutlet with chipotle katsu
sauce, avocado, & pickled peppers

biwa double
two all beef patties,the sauce, lettuce,
cheese, pickles, fermented onions

karaage banh mi
special recipe fried chicken tossed in
tropical vibes, pickled daikon & carrots. zesty!

 

Cinco De Mayo, The Tradition Continues!

Every year we do something special for Cinco de Mayo and 2016 is absolutely going to be no different. This year el mas chignon, Santos Gongora, is taking it next level with kimchi tamales at Biwa and the brand new posole ramen at Noraneko,

Imagine classic corn tamales steamy and hot in silky corn husks with the special-recipe kimchi and melty cheese inside. !Si!

Picture porky posole rojo, taken to another place with ramen noodles, hominy, limes… !Que increible!

Also, there will be margaritas AND Santos and his wife both drive red Mustangs!

All goofy email newslettering aside, please come in during regular hours on Cinco de Mayo—that’s Thursday, May 5—to enjoy these delicacies. One day only. This is one of our favorite days at the restaurant and it is kind of an insider holiday for us… we will be there eating this stuff all day long ourselves and we hope to see you, too!

 

Brewed Food Dinner with Chef James Davidson!!!

Brewed Food is a dinner series that celebrates brewing as a culinary art by cooking with ingredients and techniques used to create the best craft beers--things like wort, hops, barley, and spent grain. This original approach of looking at brewers as chefs and the brewhouse as a kitchen is creating a new collaborative spirit of inspiration between chefs and brewers. 

On Tuesday, April 19, Chef, Certified Cicerone and Brewed Food founder Jensen Cummings is coming to Portland for a collaborative six-course dinner with Chef James Davidson of Biwa. Each dish features a new look at brewing ingredients and processes from New Belgium and Base Camp breweries. Select beers will be paired with each course. The event will be held next door at our friends' Simpatica Dining Hall at 6pm.

Chef James Davidson of Biwa

Chef James Davidson of Biwa

Please join us for this truly unique dining experience!!

THE DETAILS
Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Time: 6pm
Where: Simpatica Dining Hall, across the hall from Biwa at 828 SE Ash St.
Tickets: $60 (includes gratuity + pairings) available here

 

お正月2015  New Year’s Eve at Biwa

We are always so excited about New Year’s Eve, and this year even more so than ever! The sumibiyaki grill is coming back for just one night for an unbelievable smoky yakiniku steakhouse experience to be enjoyed alongside tabletop nabe and wild sashimi beyond our wildest imagination. There will almost surely be surprises, magic and the unexpected, too…

Please, please join us!!!

Of note, we are also offering some cool drink pairing options this year, including one featuring exciting European-style grape wines selected by sommelier and new dad Anthony Garcia of Shift Drinks, and another of thought provoking and delightful sake influenced by Nick and Christine’s varied adventures in 2015.

Good times, memories and a wonderful night together will be had by all!

In Celebration of the New Year…

Osechi
Inspired by the traditional NYE bento boxes of Japan

Sashimi
An extra special expression of our feelings about the season and the ocean

Yakiniku Steakhouse
Binchotan kobe steak + Dungeness crab extravagance!

Nabe
Our interactive and convivial tableside stew with noodles to finish for NYE prosperity

Mochi
A simple and beautiful dessert of toasted mochi, fruits and ices

dinner - $65
sake pairing - $35
wine pairing - $35

Vegetarians, vegans, the gluten intolerant and all other dietary restrictions can almost certainly be accommodated… please ask!

Reservations are required (Please call us at 503.239.8830!) and will be secured with a credit card.

Thank you so much!!!!!
ありがとうございます !!!!!

Some of Our Favorite Artisan Makers

We have some friends whose beautiful wares are an essentially integrated part of the experience at our restaurants, and we think you should know a little more about them. The same attention to detail that we put into cooking and serving is echoed in their craftsmanship. And they make really great holiday gifts too…so please check them out!

Portland Apron Company creates handmade aprons in a small studio in NE Portland, with a focus on simple, functional designs and organic fabrics. It was started by Erika Kelly in 2012 as a fun side project, and has grown into a busy and successful business. Erika made these amazingly handsome/functional aprons for Norankeo and we think they are just great. 

“Kina and I got together at Noraneko to talk about what they needed in an apron. I brought her some samples to look at, and she asked if the ties could be customized to match the norens in the space. She wanted the ties to be close in color, but slightly contrasting. I thought it was a great idea, and after some searching I was able to find the colors we ended up with. I love the end result! It's really fun when I get to collaborate with others and come up with something new like this.” —Erika

HANK by Henry is a collaborative effort between Noraneko chef Ed Ross and his girlfriend, designer Allison Henry. HANK offers a revival on contemporary chopsticks with a passion for un-paralleled craftsmanship. Each pair is crafted out of durable wood and meticulously hand-painted with understated details. They really are small objects of art.

“Culinary culture plays a big part in our daily ritual, we cook and entertain at home a lot. For us it’s about getting people together and sharing a meal with them - being surrounded by good food and lots of laughs. The chopsticks became our way of bringing a little more joy into that experience. We hope they inspire people to get jazzed about what they’re eating…these are the chopsticks they reach for every time they order takeout or make their favorite noodle dish.”
—Ed & Allison


Careen Stoll’s ceramics are inspired by sensory experiences of nature: the cool smooth of a river stone, the transformation of an egg, the endlessness of the sea… and she finds it is easy to capture these qualities with porcelain. She designed a lovely set of platters and plates for our new sashimi menu at Biwa, so please take note next time you’re in. Watch the video below to see Careen at work…her method is truly an art form!

“As the daughter of a sailor, the creatures of the sea are particularly special to me. Memories of delicate undulations and effortless gatherings, all suspended in watery space, return to me when I sit quietly before sushi. I hope that my dishes at Biwa can present these gifts from the sea with the respect that they deserve. To work with Gabe and Kina has been a real pleasure: not only do they have a similar regard for the beauty and sourcing of food as I, but they absolutely understand the ephemeral sculptural nature of the dining experience without getting all formal about it. Biwa has always felt like a place where my heart is warm and all my senses are pleased.” —Careen

Video by One Hundred Seconds


New sashimi at Biwa!!!

For the last year we have been dialing in the sourcing, handling, and all the systems required to work with amazing fish and animals from the ocean and we are very excited to announce that we are now offering a daily menu of sashimi and an exciting, robust moriawase selection of the best of the day’s preparations.

Our menu has six or so composed fresh dishes that draw directly from the extremely popular Japanese tradition of savoring raw fish as the pinnacle of deliciousness, paired with a healthy dose of things that we are interested in like fermented sauces, Kina’s folks' olive oil, funny little salads and big unusual flavors.

Everyday the moriawase is a stunning (we think!) selection of the best of what we have to offer for the day. See…

IMG_4118.JPG

…wow. So pretty, so fresh!

We decided that now is the time to introduce you to this menu for a few reasons:

a) sashimi is a winter food in Japan and it is feeling like winter

b) our menu has a lot of hot/brown/salty things (which are delicious!) and we want to give you some fresh/light/bright options to begin the meal

c) we have this crazy good sake menu and want you to have more pairing options

So come in and try it!

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 2.15.12 PM.png

News for November

The team just went to New York City and this is what they did…

Gabe, Kina, and Chef Ed took a trip to NYC in late October for the StarChefs International Chefs Congress. It was the 10th anniversary of this grand industry affair and the theme was “Open Source Cooking: The New Era of Collaboration and Connectivity.” No doubt. The gang thought it super cool to be in the same room as contemporary chef luminaries like Michel Bras, José Andrés, and Wylie Dufresne, and to cook alongside other chefs from around the world. They served the fried chicken from Noraneko… skin-on thigh meat brined in sake/soy/shio koji, coated in potato and cornstarch (gluten free!), fried to crispy amazingness. People loved it.

IMG_6812.JPG

Ed also participated in a collaborative ramen competition, which was fun, and a highlight of the trip for him was a two-day stage at Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Nougatine and Jean-George (three-Michelin stars!).

They also ate their way around the city. Here are the places they went to and really liked:

·       Takashi (really special yakiniku restaurant)
·       El Rey (chia seed pudding!)
·       Sake Bar Decibel (Gabe’s been trying to go for years and finally went)
·       Grimaldi’s (funny people, good pizza…coal-oven fold-in-half slices)
·       Russ and Daughters Cafe (of course smoked fish but also halva ice cream!)
·       Superiority Burger (tahini ice cream!!)
·       Ivan Ramen (ramen!)
·       Spuyten Duyvil (wonderful exotic Brooklyn beer bar)
·       Grand Central Oyster Bar (half-shell clams and amazing bartender)

 

So Many Peppers

In anticipation of kale and kohlrabi, we’re furiously preserving the summer harvest. Because it’s fun to eat peppers and shiso throughout the year. Here’s what we’re doing…

Jimmy Nardello Peppers - made into a paste, fermented and dehydrated to make a fermented pepper powder to sprinkle on vegetables and sashimi for bright flavor and color. Turned out beautiful.

Shiso “Capers” and Leaves - Gabe asked all the farmers he knew to give him their shiso buds, and boy did they come through. That plus what Gabe and Kina pulled from their garden…we have a nice batch of fermented shiso capers. Plus the leaves too.

Shiso leaves.JPG

Events this Month:

Operation Tomodachi
PSU Center for Japanese Studies
November 5 | 6pm

What can Oregon learn from Japan's tragic triple disaster? (Earthquake/Tsunami/Fukushima Nuclear Plant Meltdown) The “Great East Japan earthquake” of March 11, 2011 was the most powerful in Japanese history, with a magnitude of 9.0 (Mw). General Eiji Kimizuka led the Joint Task Force that coordinated 100,000 soldiers of the Japan ground Self-Defense Force for relief efforts. General Kimizuka will recount what happened during Operation Tomodachi, and what Operation Tomodachi means for the Japan-U.S. cooperation in the future. Guys, this will be interesting.

OMSI’s Better Bites
November 12 | 6 - 8pm (21+ only)

This series at OMSI is focused on healthy, economical eating that’s a little outside the box. Chef Ed will talk about how to make ramen at home by jazzing up ramen packets with things you could get at any grocery store. Think “Supermarket Sweep” ramen… instant noodles, boxed stock, a simple chasu recipe using pork tenderloin, vegetable garnishes (hit the salad bar!). It will be healthy, delicious, and quick. And you get to taste it if you go.

Ramen Packets.JPG

Portland Night Market
November 20, 4 - 10pm | November 21, noon - 10pm

The Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) is starting a night market. It will celebrate the artisans, music venues, creatives, restaurants, and bars of the neighborhood. Come discover new makers and merchants as you taste, try, and buy. Biwa and Noraneko will be there serving sake and other surprises.


Yatai

Yatai are casual, portable indoor/ outdoor restaurants in Japan... kind of like food carts but with the service and charm of a restaurant. Even though they collapse down to a size that can actually be rolled away on foot or by bike, yatai offer the experience of stepping under a curtain from the outside and into a private space. Yatai are predominately nighttime places offering simple food and drink; ramen or udon, yakitori, etc, and are more common in some cities than others.

Since opening our own yatai, Kotori, on the corner of SE 9th and Pine, we have been thinking a lot about these ephemeral almost-restaurants. Below are some old pictures that Kina and Gabe took on a trip to Fukuoka, one of the most famous places for yatai, that we thought you all might like...

Kotori Menu for the week of July 16th

Hi everyone,

Below is our menu at Kotori for this week (... there may be some small changes but...).

Last week was a lot of fun and the yakitori was really delicious... I think this week will probably be even better. We hope you can come join us Thursday - Sunday from 4:PM until sunset.