Boke Bowl

The first time we tried Boke Bowl, we didn’t realize it, but we came for the “Boke Bird” night. And I fell in love.

The “bird”is for their fried chicken, only available on Thursdays, but they also have a smoked tofu entree prepared and served the same way, family style. You’ll start with rice, seaweed wrappers, steam buns, and a hearty assortment of pickles. After you make yourself a few little snacks, out comes a huge platter of smoked tofu with marinated eggplant and fried onions. They say it serves 2-3, but my husband and I took home nearly half of our meal as leftovers. All for just $25. Amazing.Vegetarian and vegan food at Boke Bowl in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

The next time we went, we went with a big group, shared a bunch of steam buns and pickles, and I had a seasonal salad. So good.

Vegan eggplant steam buns from Boke Bowl in Portland | vegetarianPDX

Yesterday, we popped back in for lunch. On a 39-degree rainy dreary day, and me with this lingering head cold, ramen sounded like just the thing.

Warning: I know nothing about ramen. I will not pretend to know anything about how broth should be, the way noodles should taste, the manner in which it should be eaten, or any other particularities that pertain to ramen.

Vegan caramelized fennel broth ramen at Boke Bowl in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

With that caveat, when I got home, I googled how hot the broth is supposed to be served, because it was not particularly hot. Not hot enough that my first bite needed blowing on. Apparently, ramen is supposed to be hot. That would have been better. (I’m not trying to be snarky here. I really didn’t know, and that really would have been nice for my poor sinuses.) On this particular trip, the eggplant in the steamed buns was underdone as well. For my ramen, my husband’s rice bowl, rice tots, and an order of steam buns, we paid $34 (before tip) for a lunch that I was literally lukewarm on. The toddler enjoyed leftover noodles very much, as did my husband. “This is good ramen,” he offered.

Maybe I was just being grumpy after my disappointing buns. (I’ve written and deleted a couple of “disappointing buns” jokes. Such restraint. You’re welcome.)

Tofu rice bowl at Boke Bowl in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

So my love affair with Boke Bowl has hit a rough patch, but we might be able to make it after all. Maybe if we inject some excitement into our relationship with a dim sum brunch–something, as a vegetarian, I didn’t expect I’d ever get to try–maybe we can make this thing work.

Hot sauce at Boke Bowl in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

Gluten-free and vegan options are noted on the menu. Be sure to let your server know if you want your meal vegetarian or vegan if it’s not marked as such on the menu. That’ll mean no kimchi. The famous brussels sprout and cauliflower salad can’t be prepared without fish sauce.

Rice tots at Boke Bowl in Portland, Oregon | vegetarianPDX

“Too saucy.” –Toddler


Boke Bowl West
1200 NW 18th St.

Boke Bowl East
1028 SE Water Ave.

Either Location: 503-719-5698


Have you been to Boke Bowl? 


    • Kelley says:

      Ha, I just have to scan for the “V”s on the board, so it’s pretty much the ramen, tofu rice bowl, or salad. They had a kale salad that I should’ve gotten. They do such a great job with salads there.

  1. marycressler says:

    Ohh thanks for all the heads up! Have never been!!! And one of my New Year’s goals is to have at least 2 vegetarian/vegan days per week (we’re bbq fanatics around here). Definitely a place I plan to check out.

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