Opening of a Tanaka Shokupan sandwich shop and bakery in downtown Portland

0

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Tanaka — the new shokupan-centric sandwich shop and bakery from the team behind Afuri — is the fact that nothing like it already exists in Portland. Part Japanese pastry, part katsu sandwich, part brunch cafe, the combination seems like an obvious win in Portland, a sister city of Sapporo, Japan, with a passion for baking and a strong sandwich culture. Tanaka is more central than Oyatsupan, Beaverton’s beloved Japanese bakery; it offers a wider selection than Tokyo Sando, the successful food cart known for its shokupan sandwiches, and the now-closed shokupan cafe Kimura Toast Bar.

Instead, Tanaka — which opens Saturday, June 25 in downtown Portland — offers a little bit of everything: milk bread sandwiches filled with fruit and whipped cream, sandwiches topped with beef or pork katsu-fried wagyu, pistachio and ume flavored macaroons, miso croissants and matcha dorayaki. The pastry case is filled with elaborate desserts such as black sesame-raspberry Paris Brest, yuzu meringue tart with shiso and blackberries, pistachio biscuit pyramid with raspberry compote and dark chocolate mousse. Out of the kitchen, milk bread breakfast sandwiches are simply adorned with a drizzle of whole-grain mustard and herb aioli, while the Francisco – a play on a Portuguese Francesinha – smothers a bacon, ham and linguiça sandwich with an egg and gravy.

Tanaka’s inspiration wasn’t really his milk bread, but rather his katsu sauce. Tanaka’s Tokyo-based partner restaurant, Kushikatsu Tanaka, serves skewers with a sauce based on a 70-year-old recipe. The Portland Cafe’s sauce, made to the same recipe, now arrives slicked onto shokupan backing a crispy fried pork loin – also available to take away from the restaurant’s small retail section. But even considering the company’s sauce bottom line, the shokupan is the real draw here: On the wall of the bakery, a line of text reads: “From everything in the world, who knew that bread would bring all these beautiful people together?”

Take a look inside Tanaka before it opens below. The restaurant is located at 678 SW 12th Avenue.

“Of all the world, who knew that bread would bring all these beautiful people together?”
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

Wooden seats near Tanaka's counter in Portland.

Most of the seating in Tanaka is communal, given the order counter and pastry shop.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

The window seats at Tanaka in Portland, Oregon.

Taking over the former location of Blue Star Donuts, the seats along the windows overlook downtown Portland.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

Tanaka's coffee counter in Portland.

Good Coffee supplies the coffee for Tanaka, also creating a house blend for the coffee.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

Tanaka's menu boards hang above the bakery display case, which is filled with fruit sandwiches, pastries, mousse and jars.

Tanaka’s cold crate is filled with retail pastries, fruit sandwiches and sauces to take home.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

A man wearing a baseball cap places fries next to a Tanaka sandwich.

Ryan McMullen, Culinary Director at Afuri and Tanaka, prepares a Francisco katsu sandwich.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

Hands surround a Tanaka shokupan sandwich, as if it is about to be picked up.

Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

A katsu sandwich sits, cut in half, on a plate at Tanaka.

Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

A sandwich with sauce, cabbage and a breaded and fried pancake at Tanaka.

Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

A gravy sandwich comes with fries at Tanaka.

Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

The Francisco, a sandwich with bacon, ham, linguisa, white cheddar and sauce.

Tanaka, a new sandwich shop and bakery from the team behind Japanese ramen brand Afuri, in Portland on Thursday, June 23, 2022. The restaurant is taking over the former Blue Star Donuts location on Morrison in downtown Portland.

The case of the pastry in Tanaka.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

Rows of desserts on wooden boards at Tanaka.

Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

A mousse sits next to a strawberry cake at Tanaka in Portland, Oregon.

Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

The black sesame Paris Brest is garnished with raspberries and black sesame mousse.

Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

A Paris Brest with black sesame and other desserts at Tanaka.

Tanaka's fruit sandwiches are milk bread with fresh whipped cream and individual fruits.  From left to right: golden kiwi, strawberry and pineapple.

Fruit sandwiches made with milk bread.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

Tanaka's desserts, from left to right: strawberry cake with vanilla mousse and strawberry compote;  milk tea panna cotta with grilled barley and coffee shoyu boba;  yuzu meringue pie;  chocolate, raspberry and pistachio pyramid cake;  Paris Brest black sesame with raspberries;  chocolate and hazelnut cake with caramel icing.

A range of desserts at Tanaka.
Molly J. Smith / Eater Portland

Share.

Comments are closed.