Before the pandemic, I probably would not have thought of ramen as take-out food.

Yes, of course, I know it can be take-out food, but I personally am always afraid I’ll spill the broth in the car. Plus, it just seems like an “experience” to go out for ramen. But with restaurants closed to table service and my daughters craving noodles, I decided to try the curbside service at Pai Men Miyake in Portland.

The ramen my daughters had, and the rice bowls my wife and I had, were all outstanding. I’ll get back to that in a minute. But what really impressed me was the restaurant’s curbside system. I’m finding that I really love the curbside service so many restaurants are offering. It’s so much easier than having to park and then wait at a counter. So I really enjoy analyzing the details of various systems.

Egg, tofu and other toppings for the miso ramen at Pai Men Miyake in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

The system at Pai Men Miyake begins with the website instructing you to order online. Sometimes when you try to order on the phone, things get misheard, or there are other callers and customers needing attention at the same time. With online ordering, it’s just me and my decisions.

On the online form, I simply clicked various dishes, along with any available add-ons I might want. For ramen, the add-ons range from spicy garlic paste and kimchi to pork belly and a miso “bomb.” When I finished ordering, I paid online with a debit card.

Then I submitted by order and got a confirmation email with an estimated pickup time of 15 to 25 minutes. I left my house planning to get there right around the 25 minute mark. I arrived around 5:45 p.m. on a Friday, pulled up right in front of the restaurant on State Street and popped the hatchback. Then I texted the number that came with the email confirmation, and gave my name and my car’s description. Right around the same time, I got an email saying that my order was ready, and seconds later, a masked and seemingly smiling staff member came out with my bag and said in my direction, “Ray?” When I yelled, “Yes,” she put the bag in the back of my car.

When I got home, I was happy to see there was also a system to packing the ramen. The noodles and broth filled about three-fourths of a deep container, but on top was a separate plastic container with all the stuff – tofu, egg, vegetables, etc. – to be mixed in later.

A pokedon rice bowl, with tuna, cucumber, sesame seeds, spicy mayo, avocado and scallions from Pai Men Miyake in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

Both my daughters had the miso ramen for $15, which comes with a chicken and pork broth, miso, pork belly, soy marinated egg, cabbage, carrots, charred corn, rayu and scallion. Both nixed the pork belly. One added kimchi ($4) and tofu ($3.50), and the other added just tofu. The broth was rich and flavorful and the noodles were bouncy but not limp, and all the fixings were done well.

My wife had a pokedon rice bowl for $15 with tuna, cucumber, sesame seeds, spicy mayo and scallions, plus she added avocado for $2. The tuna was like what you’d have in very good sushi, and the whole dish had a creamy-spicy things going. My family agreed it was probably the best of the dishes we ordered.

I’m not big on spicy food, so I really liked my gyudon rice bowl for $14 with simmered beef and onions, kinshi tamago (shredded egg), pickled ginger and scallions. The beef was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the pickled ginger made the whole thing refreshing.

The food was great and would have been, no matter how we got it. But to me, the efficient, quick and contact-free system made it taste that much better.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: