Chopsticks with Ramen in Bend Oregon

Restaurant Review: 123 Ramen in Midtown Bend

Lately, ramen is taking the West Coast dining scene by storm.

That’s right: ramen. This is not the 25 cent MSG-suffused dehydrated fare that you munched as an impoverished college student.

Good ramen–not “Top” ramen–is solid, hearty fare, a full-course meal in itself, rich in flavor and uniquely satisfying. In Japan, ramen is quintessential lunch break food. A multitude of standing-room only ramen restaurants crowd the subways and train stations of Osaka and Tokyo, filling the air with their delicious smells and the distinct sound of dozens of men, women, and children slurping hot noodles all at once. Slurping, any Japanese will tell you, both cools the noodles and enhances their flavor.

Most of the ramen restaurants on our own shores follow the traditional Japanese style pretty closely. Those wanting a unique Pacific Northwest spin on the classic recipe, however, need look no further than 123 Ramen in Bend’s Midtown.

123 Ramen promises “Ramen for the people,” and in our team’s recent visit, the restaurant’s friendly staff certainly delivered on that promise.

Each bowl felt carefully crafted just for us. Kip ordered the cold sesame noodles, perfect for what was an especially warm spring day. Our friend Dennis had the ginger-beef meatball and sesame miso kale bowl, while our friend Brad had the slow-roasted chicken and french golden beets bowl.

Being a mushroom guy myself, I had the sake-braised shiitake and garlicky grilled cabbage raab bowl. One can add an egg, slow-poached or soy brined, to any dish. “Little Ninja” bowls are even available for the young’uns.

In addition to ramen bowls, 123 Ramen offers salad rolls, a rotating selection of steamed buns, homemade kimchi, deserts and more. At the same time, the menu isn’t overwhelmingly huge, offering a perfect balance of unique eats and familiar standbys.

Locally-Sourced, Seasonal, Sustainable and Delicious

Anna Witham, 123 Ramen’s lead chef and mastermind, regularly puts out new creations according to what vegetables are seasonally available. All ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, and the website even lists exact sources for each featured ramen bowl ingredient.

For example, the shiitakes in my ramen came from Top Hat Mushrooms in the Willamette Valley. The cabbage raab came from Groundwork Organics in Junction City, Oregon.

Animal products are sourced from Central Oregon ranchers and farmers who follow compassionate and environmentally-sustainable practices. 123’s kitchen takes a “nose-to-tail” approach to menu planning, using as much of the animal as possible and using the bones to produce delicious broth. Vegetarian broth is certainly available.

Of course, we can’t forget the ramen itself: noodles are whole wheat and produced by Umi Organics of Portland. Gluten-free noodles are also available!

The icing on the cake is that all of this attention to detail also makes for a great-tasting bowl of ramen. So, the next time you find yourself Midtown or even cross-town, stop by and enjoy a bowl. Whether you’re a ramen connoisseur or a determined skeptic, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

We think that 123 Ramen’s sustainable approach to cuisine resonates with our approach to real estate: find out what we’re about on our Giving Back page.

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