My first thought was “what kind of food is kraken?”

I mean, I understood the first part of Keg and Kraken, a new restaurant and bar that opened on Congress Street in Portland in August. I went to college, I know what’s in a keg.

When I perused the online menu and saw it featured sushi, and Thai food, all became clear. The kraken in the name refers to the giant sea monster of legend. It’s not real, so it’s not actually on the menu. But it’s a pretty good symbol of the sea and all that’s in it. It’s even the name of the National Hockey League’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken.

While the name is fun, the real attraction of the place for me and my family is that it combines two of our all-time favorite types of food – sushi and Thai. We have favorite spots for each but had not considered that one place might have both.

The appetizer section of the menu included chicken satay, sushi, tempura, gyoza, shumai, curry puffs, crab rangoon, among many others. I think on another trip we might make a meal of just the appetizers.

Money bags, a crispy appetizer stuffed with goodies, from Keg and Kraken. Photo by Ray Routhier

But for dinner on recent Saturday night, we picked just one, called Money Bags ($9.95). They were four very light and crispy pastry wrappers (sort of like filo) filled with corn, edmame, carrots, chicken, water chestnut, scallion and garlic. They were shaped like little money sacks and served with a sweet dipping sauce. They were the family’s favorite dish of the evening.


From the restaurant’s “signature” dishes, we decided to try the spicy crunchy tuna roll ($20), which included cucumber, tobiko and tempura crumbs topped with tuna and spicy mayo sauce. It was cut into eight pieces and was very colorful and carried a kick. It was tasty overall, but we couldn’t detect the tempura crumbs that were in the description.

We also got the hamachi roll – yellowtail and scallions – cut into six pieces ($8). It was very good, pretty much what we expected it to taste like. For a Thai entree, we decided to try the Thai fried rice ($15.95), which included egg, broccoli, carrots, onion, scallion and tomato. I thought it was exceptionally tasty, though I couldn’t quite place the subtle flavoring of the rice. I liked that it wasn’t heavy with a sauce, like some fried rice dishes.

Thai fried rice from Keg and Kraken in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

The menu also includes kushikatsu and yakitori – Japanese-style skewered meats. The latter were priced per skewer – around $3 to $5 .

Keg and Kraken is in the site of the former sushi restaurant Kushiya Benkay, which closed in late May. C0-owners Jiraphon and Steven Richards, along with partner Nisachuan Young, decided to continue the Japanese food concept of Kushiya Benkay, while adding Thai dishes to the menu. Both Jiraphon Richards and Young are Thai.

Though we got takeout, the restaurant has ample seating and a cool vibe, with exposed brick walls. The extensive drink menu includes sake and various South Pacific and tiki bar cocktails. And of course, as the keg part of the name implies, beer.

Keg and Kraken’s dining room in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

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