Biwa

★★★☆☆
Serving yakitori, ramen, and other Japanese specialties in SE Portland
  • 215 SE 9th Ave

    Portland, OR 97214

    Map & Directions
  • 503-239-8830

3.1724 29
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Hip little downstairs hot spot serving up steaming bowls and delicious small plates. This is a cozy neighborhood favorite where there aren't a whole lot of options nearby for Asian food.I LOVED my dish. Service was decent, place

1
★★★☆☆

Hip little downstairs hot spot serving up steaming bowls and delicious small plates. This is a cozy neighborhood favorite where there aren't a whole lot of options nearby for Asian food.I LOVED my dish. Service was decent, place

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We had a large party and gave the excuse that we were more then they expected. But the waitresses were RUDE and UNACCOMODATING. They made everyone feel unconfortable and made the experience terrible. It was supposed to be a happy occasion,

0
★☆☆☆☆

We had a large party and gave the excuse that we were more then they expected. But the waitresses were RUDE and UNACCOMODATING. They made everyone feel unconfortable and made the experience terrible. It was supposed to be a happy occasion,

.

Too many pickled items on the menu. Not really a dinner place - mostly appetizers. Food was decent. Although, rude waiter with a chip on his shoulder ruined our evening. Not going back there.

0
★☆☆☆☆

Too many pickled items on the menu. Not really a dinner place - mostly appetizers. Food was decent. Although, rude waiter with a chip on his shoulder ruined our evening. Not going back there.

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The food here was great with service to match. Had a large selection of sake and a good mix of dishes to order. I will be going back soon.

2
★★★★☆

The food here was great with service to match. Had a large selection of sake and a good mix of dishes to order. I will be going back soon.

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Went for dinner tonight with my Mom and Sis. Everything we ate and drank was delicious. The Lamb ribs were to die for.

2
★★★★★

Went for dinner tonight with my Mom and Sis. Everything we ate and drank was delicious. The Lamb ribs were to die for.

Pros: Wonderful tasty food and great service.

Cons: None that I could see.

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Incredible restaurant, great pickled foods. AMAZING soups and noodles. Try lots of different things.

5
★★★★★

Incredible restaurant, great pickled foods. AMAZING soups and noodles. Try lots of different things.

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Great Japanese bar food in a pretty cool space. We rarely have to wait (though we head out pretty early) and enjoy sitting at the bar, pacing ourselves to get the many interesting and delicious small plates. Really interesting drinks, too.

4
★★★★☆

Great Japanese bar food in a pretty cool space. We rarely have to wait (though we head out pretty early) and enjoy sitting at the bar, pacing ourselves to get the many interesting and delicious small plates. Really interesting drinks, too.

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I ate at Biwa for the first time on Saturday night. The service was excellent and the food was interesting (in a good way). I was really impressed with the drink list and everything we ordered was delicious. It is also a really fun casual atmosphere with a cool kitchen bar. Good job Biwa!

2
★★★★☆

I ate at Biwa for the first time on Saturday night. The service was excellent and the food was interesting (in a good way). I was really impressed with the drink list and everything we ordered was delicious. It is also a really fun casual atmosphere with a cool kitchen bar. Good job Biwa!

Pros: good interesting food and drink

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Modern, dark atmosphere, Japanese fare. Everything we ordered was delicious! Not really that kid friendly, better for a date or out with friends. Will definitely go back for more!

4
★★★★☆

Modern, dark atmosphere, Japanese fare. Everything we ordered was delicious! Not really that kid friendly, better for a date or out with friends. Will definitely go back for more!

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Biwa has food that, frankly, I would eat every damn day of my life. For example:

Hiyyakko: Cold Ota (Portland Local!) Tofu with Bonito Flake
Homemade Kimchi: Need I say more.
Deepfried Homemade Kimchi: Even Better? Hell yes.
Chicken Karaage: Melts in your Mouth. Chicken fat never tasted so good.
Miso Scallop: Perfectly Grilled
Beef Tartar w/Quail Egg: Order 2 of 'em
Onigiri with Umeboshi Plum: The best I have ever had in any Japanese establishment. (Sorry, Seattle)

Their wine and sake and shochu selections are fun and thoughtful and offer great deals as well as special rarities.

Yes, portions can be small, but when sharing and ordering smart, you can leave full after spending less than $20. If you sit at the bar, even better as the bar offers certain menu items at a discounted price. If you go nuts, yes you can run up quite a bill.

My loverman and I have eaten Izakaya all over the west coast, and Biwa takes the cake for quality, consistency and presentation.

I take issue with the occasionally absent service, but I have also eaten at Biwa and had great service too. My advice is to plan ahead and order what you think you may want when you have your server's attention.

Biwa, I love you!

2
★★★★☆

Biwa has food that, frankly, I would eat every damn day of my life. For example:

Hiyyakko: Cold Ota (Portland Local!) Tofu with Bonito Flake
Homemade Kimchi: Need I say more.
Deepfried Homemade Kimchi: Even Better? Hell yes.
Chicken Karaage: Melts in your Mouth. Chicken fat never tasted so good.
Miso Scallop: Perfectly Grilled
Beef Tartar w/Quail Egg: Order 2 of 'em
Onigiri with Umeboshi Plum: The best I have ever had in any Japanese establishment. (Sorry, Seattle)

Their wine and sake and shochu selections are fun and thoughtful and offer great deals as well as special rarities.

Yes, portions can be small, but when sharing and ordering smart, you can leave full after spending less than $20. If you sit at the bar, even better as the bar offers certain menu items at a discounted price. If you go nuts, yes you can run up quite a bill.

My loverman and I have eaten Izakaya all over the west coast, and Biwa takes the cake for quality, consistency and presentation.

I take issue with the occasionally absent service, but I have also eaten at Biwa and had great service too. My advice is to plan ahead and order what you think you may want when you have your server's attention.

Biwa, I love you!

Pros: Incredible Food, Good Deals at the Bar

Cons: Service is So-So at times

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I really liked the atmosphere and thought the menu had a diverse array of appetizing choices. I found the waitstaff to be very friendly and attentive even though the restaurant was about 3/4 full. I tried the cold soba noodles with green tea and shrimp appetizer as my meal. It was simple and refreshing but a little bland. The portions are way too small - for example the lamb kabob at $4 was about a half a cup of meat. The asparagus appetizer is like six pieces of aparagus for $8 or $9. My husband enjoyed his ramen but I left hungry after dropping over $80 on our meal. C'mon Biwa we are not asking for Outback Stakehouse portions but please give us a little mooooore.

1
★★★☆☆

I really liked the atmosphere and thought the menu had a diverse array of appetizing choices. I found the waitstaff to be very friendly and attentive even though the restaurant was about 3/4 full. I tried the cold soba noodles with green tea and shrimp appetizer as my meal. It was simple and refreshing but a little bland. The portions are way too small - for example the lamb kabob at $4 was about a half a cup of meat. The asparagus appetizer is like six pieces of aparagus for $8 or $9. My husband enjoyed his ramen but I left hungry after dropping over $80 on our meal. C'mon Biwa we are not asking for Outback Stakehouse portions but please give us a little mooooore.

Pros: tasty appetizers and good cocktails (whiskey sour yum)

Cons: portions are too small

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This was probably the worst dining experience I've had in Portland. biwa seemed great at first - cozy and trendy, relatively busy, etc; however, the service was abhorrent. We were a group of 14 who called ahead to make reservations. Granted, they were busy when we arrived, but biwa is so small that it only holds about 10-12 tables total. We were not approached by a server for at least 15 minutes and after ordering drinks, we waited for those drinks for another 20 minutes.

Appetizers were preorderd at $5 per person when the reservations were made (be warned, this is a total rip off). They served us several bowls of appetizers, which if orderd seperately would have saved us nearly $30 as a group. Basically, we paid for 14 appetizers, but only received 9.

The server, whose face we only saw twice the entire visit finally took our entree orders long after we had finished our appetizers. I ordered the Fried Rice w/ BBQ Pork and it was a bowl of greasy rice with about 4-5 microscopic pieces of charred pork. In essence, I paid $11 for a bowl of greasy rice and a few pieces of carrots. The other items around the table looked like small appetizer portions as well. I don't expect a plate full of food when I go out, but I also don't expect to leave feeling hungry.

When the server finally decided to bring our check she did not offer (or even ask) if we would like it split up. We reluctantly did the work on our own. Moreover, they have a policy of using no more than three credit/debit cards per table so 90% of our party had to rush to an ATM in order to pay for their meals. Another server quickly told us we should bring cash next time we come, though we were never told of this rule prior to ordering (it was in small print on the menu). However, if they can run three cards, I'm guessing they have the capability to run more than three cards. I spent $30 on mediocre food, had to argue just to pay, and our server did not even think it necessary to say thanks or good bye, though she had no problem charging us an automatic 18% gratuity (I would have left 20% had she actually shown up to work that night). I will never go back.

0
★☆☆☆☆

This was probably the worst dining experience I've had in Portland. biwa seemed great at first - cozy and trendy, relatively busy, etc; however, the service was abhorrent. We were a group of 14 who called ahead to make reservations. Granted, they were busy when we arrived, but biwa is so small that it only holds about 10-12 tables total. We were not approached by a server for at least 15 minutes and after ordering drinks, we waited for those drinks for another 20 minutes.

Appetizers were preorderd at $5 per person when the reservations were made (be warned, this is a total rip off). They served us several bowls of appetizers, which if orderd seperately would have saved us nearly $30 as a group. Basically, we paid for 14 appetizers, but only received 9.

The server, whose face we only saw twice the entire visit finally took our entree orders long after we had finished our appetizers. I ordered the Fried Rice w/ BBQ Pork and it was a bowl of greasy rice with about 4-5 microscopic pieces of charred pork. In essence, I paid $11 for a bowl of greasy rice and a few pieces of carrots. The other items around the table looked like small appetizer portions as well. I don't expect a plate full of food when I go out, but I also don't expect to leave feeling hungry.

When the server finally decided to bring our check she did not offer (or even ask) if we would like it split up. We reluctantly did the work on our own. Moreover, they have a policy of using no more than three credit/debit cards per table so 90% of our party had to rush to an ATM in order to pay for their meals. Another server quickly told us we should bring cash next time we come, though we were never told of this rule prior to ordering (it was in small print on the menu). However, if they can run three cards, I'm guessing they have the capability to run more than three cards. I spent $30 on mediocre food, had to argue just to pay, and our server did not even think it necessary to say thanks or good bye, though she had no problem charging us an automatic 18% gratuity (I would have left 20% had she actually shown up to work that night). I will never go back.

Pros: None

Cons: Too many to name

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Me and my wife went there about few months ago to try this location because we heard a raving review. Just like many, I(I am Japanese, and I KNOW Japanese food) was really excited to try this "ramen" that everyone was going nuts for.
First we went inside, and the restaurant was really hip, and the design was very modern. I was impressed with that, but that was it.
Service like everyone say, is just awfully slow. However they were friendly so no complaints. After all, I WORK in restaurant too!

We tried few yakimono, or that's what they want to THINK yakimono is. Yuk.

So me and my wife were praying that this "ramen" would save this place from utter failure. Funny thing was, the waitress almost wanted to warn me saying that this is "Portland style ramen"(because she was Japanese and I was too and I was talking to her)

Drumrolls, and here they come. All I can say was, WOW. First there were some burnt char like layer of something*(no it wasn't seaweed) and there was no real color to the broth. The noodle was just plain white noodles that almost looked like some dried noodles from some Asian store. There were onions and you don't put white/yellow onions in ramen.

I took 2 bites telling myself that this is ok, but I could not lie to myself. 2 minutes later, I ask for check and run away from this place called "restaurant." I went to grab dinner at real Japanese izakaya, Yuzu.

If you want to feel piece of Japan, please save yourself and avoid this place. As Japanese I am ashamed that they call this Japanese food. They don't even order from the most well known local Japanese vendors for food.

Please, stay away from this place.

0
★☆☆☆☆

Me and my wife went there about few months ago to try this location because we heard a raving review. Just like many, I(I am Japanese, and I KNOW Japanese food) was really excited to try this "ramen" that everyone was going nuts for.
First we went inside, and the restaurant was really hip, and the design was very modern. I was impressed with that, but that was it.
Service like everyone say, is just awfully slow. However they were friendly so no complaints. After all, I WORK in restaurant too!

We tried few yakimono, or that's what they want to THINK yakimono is. Yuk.

So me and my wife were praying that this "ramen" would save this place from utter failure. Funny thing was, the waitress almost wanted to warn me saying that this is "Portland style ramen"(because she was Japanese and I was too and I was talking to her)

Drumrolls, and here they come. All I can say was, WOW. First there were some burnt char like layer of something*(no it wasn't seaweed) and there was no real color to the broth. The noodle was just plain white noodles that almost looked like some dried noodles from some Asian store. There were onions and you don't put white/yellow onions in ramen.

I took 2 bites telling myself that this is ok, but I could not lie to myself. 2 minutes later, I ask for check and run away from this place called "restaurant." I went to grab dinner at real Japanese izakaya, Yuzu.

If you want to feel piece of Japan, please save yourself and avoid this place. As Japanese I am ashamed that they call this Japanese food. They don't even order from the most well known local Japanese vendors for food.

Please, stay away from this place.

Pros: Atmosphere

Cons: To many tolist

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This a great little restaurant located below the street. I like to sit at the bar which overlooks the open kitchen. After 9pm there is a cheaper bar menu. This a great place for a date or just a solo bite to eat. I love to go with multiple people so we can order a variety of dishes to sample. They change some items on their menu (seasonal). Can't wait to eat here again!

4
★★★★☆

This a great little restaurant located below the street. I like to sit at the bar which overlooks the open kitchen. After 9pm there is a cheaper bar menu. This a great place for a date or just a solo bite to eat. I love to go with multiple people so we can order a variety of dishes to sample. They change some items on their menu (seasonal). Can't wait to eat here again!

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The food here is more "fusion" than "authentic." I am truly mystified as to why the ramen here gets such high marks. The broth seemed starchy, left a strange aftertaste, and was bland and uninspiring. Granted, it's a Japanese restaurant and not a Korean one, but the bibimbap was absolutely subpar. I would not recommend coming here for anyone looking for truly authentic Japanese flavors.

1
★★☆☆☆

The food here is more "fusion" than "authentic." I am truly mystified as to why the ramen here gets such high marks. The broth seemed starchy, left a strange aftertaste, and was bland and uninspiring. Granted, it's a Japanese restaurant and not a Korean one, but the bibimbap was absolutely subpar. I would not recommend coming here for anyone looking for truly authentic Japanese flavors.

Pros: friendly staff

Cons: overpriced

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I've heard mainly bad things about Biwa's udon and ramen, but I had to give it a try myself. I love the interior and the cook station is pretty rad for being right in front of you like a sushi bar (duh it's an izakaya) but I had some of the skewers and they were pretty tasty. The ramen I had was pretty doughy and it just left a bad taste in the mouth. I left pretty full for 12 dollars but unsatisfied. I'll give it another go but gonna stay away from the soups. Sit at the bar with a friend.

1
★★★☆☆

I've heard mainly bad things about Biwa's udon and ramen, but I had to give it a try myself. I love the interior and the cook station is pretty rad for being right in front of you like a sushi bar (duh it's an izakaya) but I had some of the skewers and they were pretty tasty. The ramen I had was pretty doughy and it just left a bad taste in the mouth. I left pretty full for 12 dollars but unsatisfied. I'll give it another go but gonna stay away from the soups. Sit at the bar with a friend.

Pros: Location, Interior, Yakatori

Cons: Ramen & Udon :[

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I am very excited to have found a yakimono / izakaya restaurant in SE Portland. The food is excellent from the scrumptious yakimono items such as the bara (pork belly) and yakitori (chicken liver, thigh and breast) to the wide selection of izakaya specialties. Each menu item I tasted was a skillfully prepared delight! You may need to order more of the wonderful bite size pieces to fill you up but to me it was well worth it. If you're trying to save a few bucks ask about the counter specials. They also serve udon and ramen which I am looking forward to trying. Biwa's inviting atmosphere and attentive staff made my experience unforgettable. Bring your friends and enjoy experimenting the unique Izakaya menu. If you are ever in the So-Cal area and you want to try another wonderful Yakimono restaurant I recommend Shin Sen Gumi.

2
★★★★★

I am very excited to have found a yakimono / izakaya restaurant in SE Portland. The food is excellent from the scrumptious yakimono items such as the bara (pork belly) and yakitori (chicken liver, thigh and breast) to the wide selection of izakaya specialties. Each menu item I tasted was a skillfully prepared delight! You may need to order more of the wonderful bite size pieces to fill you up but to me it was well worth it. If you're trying to save a few bucks ask about the counter specials. They also serve udon and ramen which I am looking forward to trying. Biwa's inviting atmosphere and attentive staff made my experience unforgettable. Bring your friends and enjoy experimenting the unique Izakaya menu. If you are ever in the So-Cal area and you want to try another wonderful Yakimono restaurant I recommend Shin Sen Gumi.

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We tried this restaurant for the first time for a birthday party, of 8 adults. The service was terrible! 15 minutes to get water, which came in glasses that were 1/2 full! We requested a pitcher for the table, and were denied! Our server showed up after 20 minutes, (no kidding, we timed her), and while she was very helpful & pleasant, her service continued to be glacially slow. The air was filled with smoke from the grill, and when we left our clothes smelled of smoke! Since we were a large group, we ordered and tried many items. The grilled foods were often as not burned & the skewers were ridiculously tiny for $6. It would take 3 or more of them for the average male to feel satisfied. The drink menu was interesting & overpriced. The kimchi was good, but Toji on Hawthorne has MUCH better. Considering the price, we felt our meal wasn't worth the lousy service, we won't return. For a more satisfying Japanese experience, try Kappaya on Division.

1
★★☆☆☆

We tried this restaurant for the first time for a birthday party, of 8 adults. The service was terrible! 15 minutes to get water, which came in glasses that were 1/2 full! We requested a pitcher for the table, and were denied! Our server showed up after 20 minutes, (no kidding, we timed her), and while she was very helpful & pleasant, her service continued to be glacially slow. The air was filled with smoke from the grill, and when we left our clothes smelled of smoke! Since we were a large group, we ordered and tried many items. The grilled foods were often as not burned & the skewers were ridiculously tiny for $6. It would take 3 or more of them for the average male to feel satisfied. The drink menu was interesting & overpriced. The kimchi was good, but Toji on Hawthorne has MUCH better. Considering the price, we felt our meal wasn't worth the lousy service, we won't return. For a more satisfying Japanese experience, try Kappaya on Division.

Pros: Interesting bar menu, many delicious sakes

Cons: service & air quality

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My husband and I consider Biwa in our top 5 restuarants. The kimchi is spicy and wonderful. The ramen complex, rich and soul-satisfying. The gyoza, fried dumplings, are fresh, crispy, hot and delicious. We always leave feeling warm and happy. The bar specials after 9pm are a really good deal. My husband ate his way through Japan and thinks they do a great job with the cuisine. The servers are friendly, quick and helpful, but maybe a little scattered when the rush hits. The only cons we have experienced are temperature based: not super-cold beer sometimes, and not super-hot ramen sometimes. The atmosphere is relaxed and warm with good music. Portland is lucky to have businesses that work so hard for our enjoyment. Thanks Biwa, we are happy you are here!

2
★★★★☆

My husband and I consider Biwa in our top 5 restuarants. The kimchi is spicy and wonderful. The ramen complex, rich and soul-satisfying. The gyoza, fried dumplings, are fresh, crispy, hot and delicious. We always leave feeling warm and happy. The bar specials after 9pm are a really good deal. My husband ate his way through Japan and thinks they do a great job with the cuisine. The servers are friendly, quick and helpful, but maybe a little scattered when the rush hits. The only cons we have experienced are temperature based: not super-cold beer sometimes, and not super-hot ramen sometimes. The atmosphere is relaxed and warm with good music. Portland is lucky to have businesses that work so hard for our enjoyment. Thanks Biwa, we are happy you are here!

Pros: flavor, value

Cons: food and beverage temps

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Biwa is hands down the place my friends and I wind up at when we want great japanese food - or we just want to meet up and hang out. You can take it to the limit - with special sake and lots of little grilled treats and hot pots or keep it simple. The ramen is fantastic, the best in town -with homemade noodles and rich clean broth. Add the egg, add the bacon- it is worth it. Sometimes the japanese pickles are a little too salty- but the kimchee is always perfect. the grill can make some of the tender bits go black - they should watch that- but most of the time the meal is perfect, enjoyable, healthy and well executed. The staff takes pride in what they serve, and get excited when you get brave with your choices. I would say besides the ramen - my classic meal there is kimchee, grilled mackerel and a bowl of rice. Try it!

2
★★★★★

Biwa is hands down the place my friends and I wind up at when we want great japanese food - or we just want to meet up and hang out. You can take it to the limit - with special sake and lots of little grilled treats and hot pots or keep it simple. The ramen is fantastic, the best in town -with homemade noodles and rich clean broth. Add the egg, add the bacon- it is worth it. Sometimes the japanese pickles are a little too salty- but the kimchee is always perfect. the grill can make some of the tender bits go black - they should watch that- but most of the time the meal is perfect, enjoyable, healthy and well executed. The staff takes pride in what they serve, and get excited when you get brave with your choices. I would say besides the ramen - my classic meal there is kimchee, grilled mackerel and a bowl of rice. Try it!

Pros: Ramen, Grilled Stuff, Sake

Cons: Smoke from the grill!

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my friends and I went out to Biwa on a Thursday night recently?a good night to go, as Biwa does a sake and food pairing from a specific province. I'm no expert on Japanese food, but I do eat out a lot and consider myself an adventurous diner. I know when something is prepared with love and attention to detail, as it certainly was here! We absolutely loved the squid salad, the gyoza, the Korean griddle cakes, the tsukemono and yakitori?the pacing of the meal was just right, service informed and friendly, and we all had a great evening. Some of these reviews are obviously written by people who had expectations of the food being just like it is in Japan, and who perhaps consider themselves connoisseurs of all things Japanese, which may contribute to their disappointment. But, if you have an open mind and an appreciation for well-prepared, esthetically pleasing, delicious handmade food, some of the best in Portland, then you'll have a beautiful night out. Oishii desu yo!

2
★★★★★

my friends and I went out to Biwa on a Thursday night recently?a good night to go, as Biwa does a sake and food pairing from a specific province. I'm no expert on Japanese food, but I do eat out a lot and consider myself an adventurous diner. I know when something is prepared with love and attention to detail, as it certainly was here! We absolutely loved the squid salad, the gyoza, the Korean griddle cakes, the tsukemono and yakitori?the pacing of the meal was just right, service informed and friendly, and we all had a great evening. Some of these reviews are obviously written by people who had expectations of the food being just like it is in Japan, and who perhaps consider themselves connoisseurs of all things Japanese, which may contribute to their disappointment. But, if you have an open mind and an appreciation for well-prepared, esthetically pleasing, delicious handmade food, some of the best in Portland, then you'll have a beautiful night out. Oishii desu yo!

Pros: exquisite food!

Cons: no chef's tasting menu

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Probably my second worst restaurant experience. We waited a good 15 minutes before we were approached by the server, the people who were seated next to us about 10 minutes afters we did were approached first, and received their food and drink before us. The ramen was not as good as we had hoped, and the drinks were mediocre. Won't be going back!

0
★☆☆☆☆

Probably my second worst restaurant experience. We waited a good 15 minutes before we were approached by the server, the people who were seated next to us about 10 minutes afters we did were approached first, and received their food and drink before us. The ramen was not as good as we had hoped, and the drinks were mediocre. Won't be going back!

Pros: None

Cons: Everything

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My friend and I recently went to Japan. After reading the review on WW and looking at the menu, we were really excited to try Biwa because we have been craving good ramen. The atmosphere almost seemed like it was trying too hard to be a trendy hipster Japanese joint. The staff was very helpful and friendly, and that was the highlight of our dining experience. The ramen was horrible! The noodles were gummy and chewy, the broth grotesquely salty and the miso pork tenderloin tasted like breakfast ham. The bowl of ramen cost $8.00 and to get three thin slices tenderloin ?breakfast ham? was an extra $4.00. I slurped down about half a cup of the noodles and broth and then I was finished. Afterwards we went to another place to eat dinner!

0
★☆☆☆☆

My friend and I recently went to Japan. After reading the review on WW and looking at the menu, we were really excited to try Biwa because we have been craving good ramen. The atmosphere almost seemed like it was trying too hard to be a trendy hipster Japanese joint. The staff was very helpful and friendly, and that was the highlight of our dining experience. The ramen was horrible! The noodles were gummy and chewy, the broth grotesquely salty and the miso pork tenderloin tasted like breakfast ham. The bowl of ramen cost $8.00 and to get three thin slices tenderloin ?breakfast ham? was an extra $4.00. I slurped down about half a cup of the noodles and broth and then I was finished. Afterwards we went to another place to eat dinner!

Pros: The people were friendly

Cons: Everything else

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I was extremely disappointed with this expensive bowl of noodles. This is a true hipster kind of place; over priced food, small portions and a hyped up reputation. The staff was very nice and attentive however the food left a lot to be desired. After recently traveling in Japan I craved the wonderful ramen noodles I had in Kyoto. I should have known when the menu stated that the noodles were homemade Chinese style. The pork loin that was an extra $4 was like a thin piece of ham nothing like what you find in Japanese ramen. The broth was salty and not that favorful. With the total cost of $13 as I paid $1 for an egg this is definitely not worth it.

0
★☆☆☆☆

I was extremely disappointed with this expensive bowl of noodles. This is a true hipster kind of place; over priced food, small portions and a hyped up reputation. The staff was very nice and attentive however the food left a lot to be desired. After recently traveling in Japan I craved the wonderful ramen noodles I had in Kyoto. I should have known when the menu stated that the noodles were homemade Chinese style. The pork loin that was an extra $4 was like a thin piece of ham nothing like what you find in Japanese ramen. The broth was salty and not that favorful. With the total cost of $13 as I paid $1 for an egg this is definitely not worth it.

Pros: Nice atmosphere

Cons: Too expensive and food was bad

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The second I read the Willamette Week blurb about Biwa's ramen I made plans for me and my Japanese fiance to go check it out. We have been craving ramen since we moved back to Portland from Japan. The standard bowl of $8 ramen consists of thick noodles (average), weak broth, and onions that were burnt. All of the items that should be included in a good bowl of noodles like an egg, seaweed, pork, and leeks were offered for extra charges between $1-4. So we ended up spending $11 on a mediocre bowl of ramen. Pretty ridiculous if you ask us. We were so excited to get away from the usual sushi fare offered in Portland and eat some izakaya type food, but starting with the ramen really turned us off to the place. If this place want to turn people onto the wonders of a great bowl of noodles, they have a lot of work to do. Rent Tampopo instead.

1
★★☆☆☆

The second I read the Willamette Week blurb about Biwa's ramen I made plans for me and my Japanese fiance to go check it out. We have been craving ramen since we moved back to Portland from Japan. The standard bowl of $8 ramen consists of thick noodles (average), weak broth, and onions that were burnt. All of the items that should be included in a good bowl of noodles like an egg, seaweed, pork, and leeks were offered for extra charges between $1-4. So we ended up spending $11 on a mediocre bowl of ramen. Pretty ridiculous if you ask us. We were so excited to get away from the usual sushi fare offered in Portland and eat some izakaya type food, but starting with the ramen really turned us off to the place. If this place want to turn people onto the wonders of a great bowl of noodles, they have a lot of work to do. Rent Tampopo instead.

.

The yakitori was awesome, the best I have had since I quit travelling to Japan. My wife wasn't enthused by her udon. She felt it was too salty and no flavour, just like in Japan. Everything I had was perfect. The staff was very friendly and fairly prompt to serve.

We plan on going back and trying more of the menu. It was a very pleasant experience.

Don't leave your valuables in your car, the neighbourhood is a little creepy and homeless camp in the parking lot close by...

2
★★★★☆

The yakitori was awesome, the best I have had since I quit travelling to Japan. My wife wasn't enthused by her udon. She felt it was too salty and no flavour, just like in Japan. Everything I had was perfect. The staff was very friendly and fairly prompt to serve.

We plan on going back and trying more of the menu. It was a very pleasant experience.

Don't leave your valuables in your car, the neighbourhood is a little creepy and homeless camp in the parking lot close by...

Pros: Good food and friendly

Cons: A little salty for those who don't generally salt their food.

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we all wanted something 'light' but warm, and took a friends' recommendation to try biwa. the atmosphere is just fancy enough, and just relaxed enough - comfortable industrial, really, though flooded with trustfund-hipsters, it seemed. the waitstaff, while busy, was still very attentive and friendly. the food - yummy. probably the best udon i've had since in japan. the broth of the vegetarian (vegan?) kitsune udon was a little bland, but my meat-loving friends' bowls were simply raved about. we'll certainly be back.

2
★★★★★

we all wanted something 'light' but warm, and took a friends' recommendation to try biwa. the atmosphere is just fancy enough, and just relaxed enough - comfortable industrial, really, though flooded with trustfund-hipsters, it seemed. the waitstaff, while busy, was still very attentive and friendly. the food - yummy. probably the best udon i've had since in japan. the broth of the vegetarian (vegan?) kitsune udon was a little bland, but my meat-loving friends' bowls were simply raved about. we'll certainly be back.

Pros: food, atmosphere, service

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Biwa was quite a disappointment for me. I wanted SO MUCH to like the place, but really it came down to their ramen. For a restaurant that bills ramen as one of their specialties, it was profoundly disappointing to be served a bowl of bland, overcooked noodles with a flavorless broth. Never you mind the local reviewers... they don't know ramen worth jack. Ramen noodles are supposed to be slightly sauteed before boiling, thus retaining a wonderful chewiness that Biwa's noodles lacked. The broth is supposed to be pork/chicken/vegetable derived, powerful, full flavored, almost thick, not this weak, watery stuff that is propped up by too much shoyu. I did like the sake menu, which is pretty good, and their grilled selections, although they seem a bit overpriced. Their udon is okay... the noodles are thick and good and chewy, and have that homemade taste, but the dish overall is weakened by that broth again. Their tapas style entrees appealed to me in that they were attempting to get the isakaya (sake pub) part right. But the ramen really kind of bit. I'm sorry. That was the deal breaker. Anyway, Biwa would be a cool place to hang out for sake and snacks, but I do not recommend the place for dinner.

1
★★★☆☆

Biwa was quite a disappointment for me. I wanted SO MUCH to like the place, but really it came down to their ramen. For a restaurant that bills ramen as one of their specialties, it was profoundly disappointing to be served a bowl of bland, overcooked noodles with a flavorless broth. Never you mind the local reviewers... they don't know ramen worth jack. Ramen noodles are supposed to be slightly sauteed before boiling, thus retaining a wonderful chewiness that Biwa's noodles lacked. The broth is supposed to be pork/chicken/vegetable derived, powerful, full flavored, almost thick, not this weak, watery stuff that is propped up by too much shoyu. I did like the sake menu, which is pretty good, and their grilled selections, although they seem a bit overpriced. Their udon is okay... the noodles are thick and good and chewy, and have that homemade taste, but the dish overall is weakened by that broth again. Their tapas style entrees appealed to me in that they were attempting to get the isakaya (sake pub) part right. But the ramen really kind of bit. I'm sorry. That was the deal breaker. Anyway, Biwa would be a cool place to hang out for sake and snacks, but I do not recommend the place for dinner.

Pros: Good sake selection, good grilled selections...

Cons: Poor poor ramen...

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Four of us went to Biwa for dinner on a Saturday night on the strength of the review in The Oregonian. One of our party was Japanese, I've traveled there in the past. Biwa offers a really great selection of very authentic Japanese "finger food" and traditional noodle dishes that are cooked to order with fresh ingredients, including "home made" noodles. They also make their own kimchi, which was superior. We got there early and discovered very good "happy hour" prices. The service was fast and everything we had was excellent. The menu features many different small portions at reasonable prices, allowing you to try a wide range of items without breaking the bank. A good selection of sake and the beer is cold. Out of the way but close in, on-street parking probably gets congested as the evening goes on. A really great place. Give it a try.

2
★★★★★

Four of us went to Biwa for dinner on a Saturday night on the strength of the review in The Oregonian. One of our party was Japanese, I've traveled there in the past. Biwa offers a really great selection of very authentic Japanese "finger food" and traditional noodle dishes that are cooked to order with fresh ingredients, including "home made" noodles. They also make their own kimchi, which was superior. We got there early and discovered very good "happy hour" prices. The service was fast and everything we had was excellent. The menu features many different small portions at reasonable prices, allowing you to try a wide range of items without breaking the bank. A good selection of sake and the beer is cold. Out of the way but close in, on-street parking probably gets congested as the evening goes on. A really great place. Give it a try.

Pros: Great frresh food, sake selection, friendly service

Cons: Parking might be a problem when they're really busy

Editorial from

A short flight of stairs divides this cement-walled restaurant and bar, where diners congregate in a dimly lit room to the left or a crowded cluster of tables to the right. An ample counter bar wraps around an open kitchen, providing…

 

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