Bamboo Sushi NE
For a brief spell, this festive space housed Bamboo Izakaya, which officially morphed into the third Bamboo Sushi not long after opening. Expect the same eye-poppingly beautiful small plates, sashimi and sushi rolls as its Southeast and Northwest sister restaurants, and an admirable sake selection as well, and as an added bonus, much less of a wait.
Bamboo Sushi NW
Visit the Southeast Bamboo mothership’s sustainable sushi superstar sister early to beat the Northwest 23rd Avenue hordes (happy hour is Monday through Friday, 4-6pm, if that helps), and be sure to try the “house on fire” mackerel, a sashimi plate and the Chasing the Dragon roll…if you’re still hungry, there’s always the epic Sumo Burger–a half pound of Snake River Farms’ Wagyu beef with aged Tillamook white cheddar, caramelized onions, onion rings, bacon and a fried egg. And when you’re done with that, plan on double dessert, because even after you’ve had Bamboo’s chocolate egg rolls, you’re still going to want to investigate neighboring Salt & Straw’s ice cream palace. Read full write-up>>
Bamboo Sushi SE
This sleek Japanese restaurants earned the impressive distinction of being the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the universe as we know it, an accolade that does green-loving Portland proud. The kitchen crew slices flawless sashimi, crafts comely sushi rolls, and prepares sophisticated cooked dishes like the grilled Kobe flank steak with pickled mushrooms, seared scallops in ponzu brown butter, and crisp-creamy Alaskan black cod with smoked soy and roasted garlic glaze, a dish so delectable it caught the eye of GQ Magazine, who named it one of the five best dishes in America. This all makes for big crowds and the lines to match, so go early if you get cranky when your sushi levels are low. Read full write-up>>
Bringing miso, maguro and maki to the previously sushi-bereft Belmont Avenue, this urbane Japanese restaurant has quickly wooed fish snobs citywide. Sit at the wide, beautiful sushi bar flanking the airy dining room and watch the line of chefs deftly craft traditional sushi favorites while the back kitchen turns out sophisticated dishes like a shaved daikon salad with arugula and ponzu vinaigrette, Kurobuta pork shoulder with Kabocha squash puree, and soy mirin-glazed roasted beet-wrapped Beet It roll. Reflecting the laid back, family-friendly neighborhood, wee ones are welcome, and while the bill does sometimes seem to add up fast, budgeteers with good sushi taste can take advantage of the daily happy hour.
Masu is a stylish downtown den of flickering candelight, flowing white drapes and sushi goodness, and just walking inside will make you feel prettier and more sophisticated, kind of like a human Nemo roll (shrimp tempura, dungeness and avocado topped with whitefish and salmon finished with ponzu, green onions, toasted white sesame seeds and smoked bonito-WoW!). The sashimi and nigiri are oh-so-fresh and expertly prepared, and the sushi rolls are delectable bite-sized works of art. When I say bite-size I mean it, no cumbersome baseball-sized pieces of sushi here, in keeping with the delicate, glamorous surroundings, so you won’t look like you’re chewing your nori cud when trying to impress a hot date or your mother, who still secretly wonders if she should have sent you to finishing school.
Humble, gracious little Murata is practically invisible to the naked eye, tucked into a parking lot mini-mall across from the Keller Auditorium. Sushi Chef Murata-san works his magic quickly and quietly, and with a reverence for his craft that makes for excellent pre-theater theater–just sit at the sushi bar. The food is fresh and authentic, the dining room and semi-private tatami rooms are serene and inviting, and the kimono-clad servers are knowledgeable and amiable. Just remember–while Murata might be invisible to the unaware, it’s got plenty of loyal fans and it’s tiny, so try to get there early to avoid a wait that will leave you rushing into your seats, unable to have so much as one pre-show glass of champagne. (Oh, the horrors!) Read full write-up>>
When the grasshoppers arrived at our table bound to a pyre of sushi rice by a thin thread of seaweed, legs in the air, eyes glazed and sightless, I blanched. They were by far the biggest grasshoppers I’d ever seen, evidently they’d been building up muscle playing the fiddle all summer, and I started to think I should have played it safe and stuck to the Pop Rocks roll–spicy tuna and avocado topped with real Pop Rocks, or the hot-sauce and caviar topped Firecracker roll. Clearly, creativity, whimsy, and a sense of humor abounds behind the sushi bar of this Division Street Japanese joint, where winged insects and fizzy candy are just a few of the fun pieces of flair adorning your dinner. Unconventional preparations aside, the fish is fresh, the sake flows freely, the atmosphere is relaxing, and the roasted rice green tea is perfect for washing grasshopper legs down.
Yama Sushi & Sake Bar
One of my favorite Portland sushi experiences of all time was at this friendly, elegant restaurant in the Pearl District’s swanky Burlington building, where we nibbled Kumamotos on the half shell with spicy ponzu and flawlessly fresh sashimi while blatantly watching the first date next to us crash and burn, as she threw a passionate fit about the still-moving shrimp head on her plate, then covered it with a leaf shroud as her appalled date looked on. Amazing sushi, amazing eavesdropping = the ideal meal. The affordable lunch specials are particularly appealing for midday sushi seekers, try the seafood pot, sukiyaki, or bibimbob with organic vegetables, red pepper sauce and pan-fried egg, all under $10. If you don’t mind walking a few blocks, park on this end of the Pearl before a Portland Center Stage show at the Armory, and make this your pre-show fuel-up.