Back in July 2013, I reported on Masa Miyake’s plans to open his third Japanese restaurant in Portland.
After some delays, Miyake Diner will open Monday night, according to Miyake’s blog. The new restaurant joins the eponymous Miyake on Fore Street and Pai Men Miyake in Longfellow Square.
Miyake Diner, though, is special because it marks Masa Miyake’s return to the cozy confines of 129 Spring St., where he operated his first restaurant, Food Factory Miyake, from 2007 to 2011.
“We’re very excited to return to our old location, return to our roots,” Miyake said in the blog post announcing the opening. “Miyake Diner will give a nod to our approach at Miyake and Pai Men Miyake, while exploring new ground with traditional but adventurous izakaya dishes created with our farm-to-table philosophy.”
Miyake and his business partner, Will Garfield, have designed Miyake Diner to be different than its sister restaurants in a number of ways. It will be smaller (only 16 seats) and have a very different menu. You won’t find sushi, sashimi or ramen on the menu. Instead, Miyake Diner is what’s known in Japan as an izakaya-style restaurant, which is similar to a gastro-pub, according to Garfield.
Miyake, who once worked in a macrobiotic kitchen in New York City, told me last summer that the menu will be “small plates, largely vegetable focused.”
The new restaurant will also focus on introducing more Maine diners to sake, that Japanese spirit made from fermented rice.
“Traditionally in Japan if you walk through the streets at 5:30 every izakaya in every neighborhood is going to be full of people eating and drinking,” Garfield told me in July. “That’s what we’re going for, a neighborhood spot that will have a bunch of different attractions for customers to come check out.”
I, for one, can’t wait to visit the new restaurant.