For decades, ramen has been considered “cheap eats.” Dry ramen noodles with a flavor foil packet could be bought for less than 30 cents a box. Just add a cup of boiling water, steep, and eat. More than one college student has subsisted on instant ramen for months at a time. Ramen wasn’t featured on the menu of fancy Japanese restaurants. That’s no longer the case. Now Americans are being exposed to the delicate yet complex flavor of true ramen. Freshly made ramen noodles is served with a wide selection of broths, including pork, chicken, seafood, and beef, and served with artfully arranged toppings such as vegetables, mushroom, seaweed, meats, egg, and the like.
Trendy ramen bistros are popping up all over the U.S. One of the most notable upscale ramen houses is Afuri in Portland, Oregon. The sleekly modern restaurant, which seats 90 diners, features ramen as its main specialty, and is renown for its signature ramen dish made with a citrusy yuzu broth.
Portland-based Murmur Creative was commissioned to develop a sweeping design branding program for Afuri that combines the Japanese aesthetic with the Pacific Northwest’s inviting style.
Afuri’s logo is reminiscent of Japanese woodblock stamps, with a simple outline of coastal mountains and slanted lines signifying the Pacific Northwest’s gentle year-round rain — and/or strings of ramen noodles. The outline design is carried out in interior directional signage as well. Afuri has also branded its own specially brewed sake and shochu, made in collaboration with Portland’s House Spirits distillery.