Pai Men Miyake serves vegetable starters in which strong flavors manage to balance the main ingredient. Brussels sprouts have a strong enough bitter-green flavor to stand up to the good char they are given and the salty-sweet vinaigrette in which they soak. Chinese broccoli's more subtle bitter flavor mellows in a light sauté with garlic and a mild heat from red chili. Slices of squash are barely pickled before mingling with crunchy daikon in a nutty gingery sauce.
Now its time for Miyake's third act: the coming relocation of the original sushi bar. Pai Men, as a second act, offers some useful lessons. Let's hope that in its new incarnation Food Factory Miyake maintains its home-grown and personal spirit, and its rejection of formula in the name of the spontaneous and unexpected.
Brian Duff can be reached at email@example.com.
PAI MEN MIYAKE | 188 State St, Portland | Mon-Sat noon-10 pm; Sun noon-9 pm | Visa/MC/Disc | 207.541.9204
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