Food Factory Miyake
A refreshing sushi meal really started to appeal to me, with all the heavy eating we’ve been doing during this month of travel. We especially loved the food we had in Portland, Maine: the pillowy Sicilian slices at Micucci’s Italian grocery, the crispy duck fat-fried fries washed down with the Allagash wheat beer/homemade lemonade shandy I custom-ordered at Duck Fat, the addictive, buttery financiers from Standard Baking Company, the fine lobsters and steamer clams you crack open at any seafood joint. What we didn’t realize is that Portland is also great spot for sushi.
My parents raved about Food Factory Miyake and I couldn’t wait to check it out. Chef and owner Masa Miyake is a one-man “food factory,” churning out inventive maki rolls, nigiri and sashimi combos in his 25-seat brick storefront space (with a Chinese takeout-sized kitchen). But diners misunderstood the restaurant name, so now it’s just Miyake. And apparently a second ramen-focused restaurant is in the works.
For lunch, the $15 sampler is the way to go. It began with a mesclun miso salad with grape tomatoes. Next, instead of the standard chalky miso soup, we sipped on bowls of sesame oil-and-scallion-dotted, umami-rich dashi broth. Then came a hamachi (yellowtail) scallion roll, topped with grated daikon (perhaps, I couldn’t identify it) and garnished with beet-red micro-greens (amaranth, maybe?). But first, I now remember, our waiter (who blogs at portlandfoodcoma.blogspot.com) brought us an amuse-bouche of delicately fried butterfish.
For those squeamish about raw fish, try the Spicy Maine shrimp roll, coated with plenty of Japanese Kewpie mayo. In fact, our waiter recommended using Kewpie (because of its higher egg content) to make your own lobster rolls. He also punches up his lobster rolls with fresh tarragon (take that, Dad!). Miyake does its own version of a lobster sushi roll that’s drizzled with truffle oil, but weren’t looking for food that chichi. My mother-in-law also enjoyed her Salmon Lady roll with seared salmon and umeboshi plum paste. Also, tuna takaki appetizers may be a dime a dozen, but the pink gems are gorgeously presented in a salad here.
And if the sushi doesn’t fill you up, there’s always the old-school Tony’s Donut Shop (my father-in-law’s favorite). Though I hear the glazed chocolate cake donuts taste even better fresh-baked, at 6 a.m., on a frigid, Maine winter morning.