Chef Masa Miyake, Miyake, Pai Men Miyake, Japanese, Sushi, Ramen, Buns, Portland, ME, Maine, West End, Recommendations, Q & A, Interview, Where to eat in Portland, New York, Japan, Japanese, Chef Recommendations, 04101

Q & A


West End

Japanese/ Sushi

129 Spring Street

Portland, ME 04101 (view map)

T: 207.871.9170


Restaurant is BYOB



Mon - Fri: 11;45am - 1:45pm

Mon - Thu: 5:30pm - 9pm

Fri - Sat: 5:30pm - 9:30pm


West End

Japanese/ Ramen

188 State Street

Portland, ME 04101

T: 207.871.9170



Q. Please tell us about Miyake:

A. Miyake, to me, is a combination of all of the experiences I’ve had throughout my cooking career. It’s a very unique dining experience, from the style of service down to the unassuming setting.

Q. You recently opened a second place, Pai Men Miyake. Can you tell us about it? Is your ramen based on a particular style or influence?

A. The focus at Pai Men is on ramen noodles and sake. The nice thing about it is that it’s perfect for both a quick bite to eat and a leisurely eating and drinking experience. Everyone’s style of ramen is different, and mine is no exception. Right now we offer my version of three types of broth – soy, miso, and pork – with traditional accompaniments. 

Q. You prior experience was working with Italian and French cuisines, how does that influence your menu? 

A. It allows me to be more creative and work outside of the traditional guidelines of Japanese cuisine, which keeps things interesting.

Q. Is there a particular fish you love to work with and why?

A. Right now, it would be Sayori, also known as ‘needle fish.’ Not only is the flavor outstanding, but it is also very difficult to cut this fish properly – making it rewarding for everyone involved.

Q. You serve a lobster sashimi, what advice can you suggest for someone who wants to make their own shellfish sashimi?

A. The most important thing for a cook to understand when making sashimi at home is the safest way to serve individual types of fish. Knowledge of parasites, for example, is essential. Beyond that, knowing how to properly cut the fish is just as important as its freshness.

Q. What are the biggest mistakes you see people make when eating sushi?

A. What makes me cringe the most is when I see someone piling spicy mayonnaise all over their food, completely negating any kind of finesse the dish once had. In addition to that, watching customers add soy sauce to everything, before even tasting it, is a bit disturbing as well.

Q. Any signs that a person really knows what they’re doing?

A. When I see someone eating the daikon radish provided with their sashimi, it’s a good sign that they’re experienced, as this is very traditional in Japan.

Q. Is there a recipe we can get you to share?

A. Yes. Sesame Teriyaki Swordfish Toro.



Q. What ingredient have you recently come across that you’re excited to use on your menu?

A. I have been offering Swordfish Toro (Belly) on the Omakase menu because it is so much fattier than what most people are used to. Several customers approach me after they’ve tasted it, expressing how they don’t usually enjoy swordfish, but this just melted in their mouth.

Q. Is there a gadget/ knife/ tool that you love to use?

A. Metal chopsticks, called Sae Bashi, are like an extension of my hand. I use them for just about everything.

[See details.]

Q. Is there a cookbook or fish book you like to recommend or is like a bible to you?

A. When it comes to technique, I can’t think of any cookbook that has influenced me more than Larousse Gastronomique. It is simply the best.

[See details.]

Q. Any local purveyors that you love to use?

A. We use many local purveyors, such as Harbor Fish in Portland and Fishbowl Farms in Bowdoinham, to insure that whatever is on our tasting menus includes items available seasonally. We also acquire much of our fish straight from Japan, giving us access to a wide variety of species.

EAT - Portland...

Q. Aside from eating at your own restaurant and your own home, what other Portland restaurants do you love to visit and what do you order?

A. Though I try to visit many different places around the city, I find myself frequently returning to Thanh Thanh 2 for their raw beef salad.

When I have time to relax and enjoy a leisurely dinner, a rarity these days, the chef’s tasting menu at Hugo’s is always outstanding.

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Q. Is there an off the beaten track place that you would take an adventurous friend and what to order?

A. Though I wouldn’t call it “off the beaten track,” Hugo’s would definitely be the spot to entertain the adventurous who aren’t afraid to eat a little cod sperm.

[See details.]

EAT - Japan...

Q. When you go back to Japan, what restaurants do you love to visit and what should we order when we go there?

A. Cote D’Or in Tokyo is my favorite spot for French cuisine. They prepare a skate fish, which comes from only one spot in Hokkaido, that I could only refer to as ‘perfect.’

Yashiki, also in Tokyo, is great for sushi.

[See details.]

EAT - New York...

Q. You worked in New York for many years, what Japanese restaurants (sushi / ramen / homestyle cuisine) can you recommend?

A. For ramen, I like Minca in the East Village, as the pork broth is extremely rich and delicious. 

I also love One or Eight if I want sushi, and would recommend the Chef’s Omakase tasting menu.

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Q. Any Italian, Seafood, or Japanese/Italian fusion restaurant that you love?

A. Basta Pasta does excellent work with Italian/Japanese fusion, and their menu is constantly changing.

If I’m in the mood for Italian you’ll generally find me at Da Silvano  enjoying their stewed Florentine style tripe.

[See details.]


Q. Miyake is BYOB, can you suggest a sake/shochu/beer that pairs well with your food?

A. As far as sake goes, the Ichinokura “Ace Brewery Barrel” Taru Junmai is a great pairing with my food. Though it’s aged in cedar barrels, this flavor doesn’t come over too aggressively.

I always drink beer with my sake, so a cold bottle of Asahi Extra Dry would pair up perfectly here.

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Q. Are there any great Japanese beverages that should be on our radar and what do you love about them?

A. I’m not sure about any new Japanese beverages, but I have seen yuzu juice introduced as a cocktail ingredient recently. I enjoy the tartness that it imparts to drinks that would otherwise be too sweet for me.

Q. Can you recommend any great sake bars... (Japan/New York/or anywhere else)?

A. Sakagura in New York is hands down the best I’ve been to.

[See details.]




Masa Miyake’s recommendations on where to eat in Portland, New York, Brooklyn, and Japan.


Details of Masa Miyake’s recommendations on where to eat in Portland, New York, Brooklyn, and Japan.