Once upon a time, there was an intersection of Northeast Killingsworth Street called Camden Corner, where a humble restaurateur named Micah Camden presided over a gastronomic EPCOT Center ranging from izakaya to English pub. Six years later, he's moved his spiritual home to Northeast Alberta and 21st Avenue—a block notorious for hosting the Shameful Salt & Straw Shooting Selfies of 2015, but more enduringly recognizable as the Times Square of Camden's fast-food mini-empire, with the entire side of a building painted with the Little Big Burger menu.
In this setting, the latest outpost of Boxer Ramen seems nearly subtle, even though Camden has spray-painted an alley in gold and decorated the walls with drawings of animal-people eating bowls of animal-people, like an anime episode of Bojack Horseman. The puzzling part of a high-gloss take on the Tokyo ramen counter is that it closes at 9 pm. The starter menu, including pot stickers with pickles ($5) and "okonomiyaki tots"—$6 totchos with spicy mayonnaise and trembling bonito flakes—would be impossibly popular at last call. The ramen bowls, with a shiitake-mushroom shoyu being the most balanced, are nighthawk comfort with a poached egg on top. Camden's little big touches remain deft, even as he makes Portland look increasingly like a cartoon.
Pro tip: Follow @boxerramen on Instagram to check when Camden's trying out crossovers between his brands—like a "Boxer Dog" mashup with Hop Dogs.
GO: 2038 NE Alberta St., 946-1619; 1025 SW Stark St., 894-8260;
boxerramen.com. Alberta noon-9 pm daily; Stark 11 am-9 pm Monday-Friday, noon-9 pm Saturday-Sunday. $.