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Japanese & Sushi in Portland


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#1 loofahgirl

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 04:56 PM

Moving down to the SE 30s/Division area in a week or so - yay! Have driven by Kappaya numerous times, and always see a bunch of cars in the lot (though I don't know about repeat customers...). What's the scoop on this place? Good? Bad? Inedible? Would love to have a good sushi place in the 'hood. Been to Mio on Hawthorne once for lunch and thought it was just meh.

Thanks!

#2 Leonardo

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Posted 15 April 2006 - 07:12 PM

Been there only once, two months ago, with my Japanese girlfriend. We found it edible, just fair. I'll go again, but only if in the area.
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#3 SarahWS

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 07:25 AM

I have to agree with Leonardo. I've been twice, once for lunch, once for dinner. The sushi is extremely average, and the restaurant is kinda sterile/cold. The bento boxes at lunch are cheap and decent if you're in the area. It's the kind of place you walk out of not having any reason to hate but also having no reason to go back.



Sarah

#4 krispenn

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 08:59 AM

Welcome to the 'nabe loofahgirl. We went once for dinner, and the quality of the fish in the rolls made me squeamish. Given the choice, I'd head back to Mio.

However, Yoko's is on the other side of Powell on 28th and Gladstone and we regularly walk over there. I've never had a bad roll there (just an hour wait when I've gotten there too late into dinner rush!).
--kris

#5 SarahWS

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 11:51 AM

However, Yoko's is on the other side of Powell on 28th and Gladstone and we regularly walk over there. I've never had a bad roll there (just an hour wait when I've gotten there too late into dinner rush!).
--kris


I'm interested to hear that about Yoko's. I found the quality of the sushi dropped dramatically in the last 2 years or so when Yoko limited her hours to take care of her baby (although the baby is probably a toddler by now!). If she's there, it's back to its usual standards. But if it's one of the 20-something Caucasian guys who aren't "real" sushi chefs (traditional ten year apprenticeship in Japan), it can suck mightily. Fish pieces too big, not trimmed correctly, etc. I find I would rather do without mediocre sushi and just go every two months to Murata for the amazing sushi experience.


Sarah

#6 loofahgirl

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 08:41 PM

Thanks!

Is Murata really as awesome as they say? I'm considering either there or Carlyle for an anniversary dinner (not till June but I love contemplating :o )

#7 krispenn

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Posted 16 April 2006 - 09:45 PM

Murata is probably hands down my favorite sushi place in PDX. Their spicy tuna makes my mouth water thinking about it.
The atmosphere is that of a well-lit Japanese restaurant, so, if you're looking for an ambient romantic atmosphere for your anniversary, Murata won't be it. Just some yummy fish.

I've only been going to Yoko's for the past year (since I moved here from NYC) and I can't say I've had a bad piece of fish there. The rolls aren't any larger than some I've had at Murata either.

#8 jmatt

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 05:06 PM


However, Yoko's is on the other side of Powell on 28th and Gladstone and we regularly walk over there. I've never had a bad roll there (just an hour wait when I've gotten there too late into dinner rush!).
--kris


I'm interested to hear that about Yoko's. I found the quality of the sushi dropped dramatically in the last 2 years or so when Yoko limited her hours to take care of her baby (although the baby is probably a toddler by now!). If she's there, it's back to its usual standards. But if it's one of the 20-something Caucasian guys who aren't "real" sushi chefs (traditional ten year apprenticeship in Japan), it can suck mightily. Fish pieces too big, not trimmed correctly, etc. I find I would rather do without mediocre sushi and just go every two months to Murata for the amazing sushi experience.


Sarah


I don't know--not counting obvious spots like Murata or Syun, I'd say Yoko's is pretty good. I'd also guess that the vast majority of sushi chefs in Portland are not "real" (by above definition)--especially considering that most of them aren't even japanese. But that's not necessarily a precursor to making good sushi..

#9 Leonardo

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 07:49 PM

Vast majority of PDX sushi chefs are Korean & Mexican. Not that I care, as long as they'd served a lengthy apprenticeship in Japan, which I'm sure is almost never the case here. Hence the dearth of good sushi, Murata excepted. I think Syun Izakaya is way overrated, not worth the trip. Were I in Hillsboro & hungry I'd go, but that's about it.
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#10 ExtraMSG

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 08:44 PM

Murata has the tatami rooms that you can reserve. That adds privacy and "specialness". (I don't think they're too large.) And yes, it's very good. Not sure if it's as good as better places in Japan, but it's quite good. Their salmon nigiri/sashimi is terrific. Very nice miso soup and custard, too, and the "chef's dinner" is a very good value at $19 - $25. There's a lot more than sushi, but I don't think it's as good a value as the fish.

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#11 SarahWS

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Posted 17 April 2006 - 10:17 PM

I would say the biggest differences between Yoko's and Murata's lie in what they are trying to do and their fish suppliers. I would kill for a connection to Murata's fish suppliers. From what he's let drop, it sounds like he has someone he trusts in Tokyo who visits the pre-dawn fish market and Fedexs him what he finds. The salmon he serves is local and the best I've had in the PDX area. Two stand outs are the smoked salmon he does himself and the salmon collar cooked suyaki style. But Murata is an extremely traditional restaurant. He's 85 plus and his wife runs the kitchen. They are not serving fusion or modern Japanese, but extremely traditional Japanese food for ex-pats and visiting Japanese businessman.

Yoko is getting her fish from the same supplier as the other higher end sushi restaurants in town. Nothing special. It's also fedexed from Tokyo, but whoever picks it out doesn't have the checkbook or eye that Murata's contact does. While she does have a traditional training, her real focus is on fusion sushi. Things like deep-fried sushi rolls, use of mayonnaise, and her own combinations. It's catering to American palates. There's nothing wrong with that, and judging by how busy the restaurant, it's incredibly popular and successful.

Personally, I grew up eating extremely traditional Japanese, courtesy of my dad the fish addict and two years in Hawaii surrounded by both the offspring of Japanese hotel managers and fellow boarding students who grew up in Japan. The meals that weren't Hawaiian were home-style Japanese, including breakfast. I'm not really a fan of sushi rolls per se, but adore sashimi. I also adore the non-sushi part of Japanese cuisine; the soups, stews, sukiyaki, chawan mushi, agedashi dofu, pickled vegetables, etc...

My sister and I took my parents there on Thursday. We had dungeness crab (best I've had in town, they left the yummy green stuff in!), salmon collar, soft-shelled crab, chawan mushi, sashimi, agedashi dofu, salmon roe/salmon rice soup, and some things I'm forgetting. Fabulous meal. The waitresses are great; mothering, telling you what to order, finding the piece of crab that accidentally didn't get picked. The only disappointment was the chawan mushi which was good, but not fabulous. It was a little too watery and they need a fishier broth as a base. My dad, who's been very spoiled by Toshi, the owner/chef of SF's best Japanese place, over the past ten years, loved it. (Toshi runs Murasaki's on Clement st. He's infamous on the SF Chowhound board for being the best in town (once you've become a regular). Once he's got to know you, he grates the wasabi for you by hand, saves you the choicest morsels, etc. However, it took us 6 years just to learn his first name. Now my dad eats dinner there 2+ times a week and they drink malt scotch together. They're buddies despite the fact neither of them can understand more than half of what the other one says. :D Now Toshi just serves us what he thinks we'll like. Unfortunately he thinks we all have the appetite of my dad who could eat even a sumo wrestler under the table without gaining an ounce. :wub: )

So if you want very traditional Japanese, go with Murata. If you want exciting rolls and different combinations, go with Yoko. You'll see me at Murata as I can't get over the feeling that deep-fried sushi is just WRONG!

Sarah

#12 jmatt

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:51 AM

So if you want very traditional Japanese, go with Murata. If you want exciting rolls and different combinations, go with Yoko. You'll see me at Murata as I can't get over the feeling that deep-fried sushi is just WRONG!

Sarah


Yeah, I agree, I'm not a real fan of the myriad of sushi rolls--I definitely prefer sashimi/nigiri/traditional maki & hand rolls. I guess what I like about Yoko's most is the atmosphere--lower lighting, decent music, etc. Love Murata as well. Also think that the sushi at Syun, while good, is a bit overrated. But--we've never eaten much sushi there--we mostly go for the rest of the menu and the sake list--albeit a bit overpriced.

#13 Leonardo

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 07:38 AM

I meant that Syun is overrated in every way, not just sushi. I don't get all the critical & popular acclaim. Maybe it's just the shock & awe of a decent place to eat in Hillsboro.

Love the tatami rooms in Murata. Great romantic setting.
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#14 loofahgirl

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 12:57 PM

Thanks for all your input. It really sounds like a tatami room at Murata is the way to go for a nice occasion. But am very interested to try Yoko! We went to Sushi Yasuda in NY for my birthday a few years ago and sat at the bar for chef Yasuda, which was a wonderful experience and I encourage anyone on a trip east to hit that place.

#15 jmatt

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 05:03 PM

I meant that Syun is overrated in every way, not just sushi. I don't get all the critical & popular acclaim. Maybe it's just the shock & awe of a decent place to eat in Hillsboro.

Love the tatami rooms in Murata. Great romantic setting.


Yeah, Leonardo, the tatami rooms are nice, but Syun is good because it somewhat approximates the simple izakaya setting which I miss in Japan--as does the front room of Takahasi on Holgate--and the non-sushi menu at Syun totally does. Murata doesn't---imho---unless yr thinking of an uptight Ginza-type place.

#16 Leonardo

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 10:37 PM

Jmatt, you are correct in that Syun fills a serious need as the only izakaya in the area. I'm sad to say that my girlfriend & I (especially she, and she's no uptight Ginza/Tokyo-type snob, far from it actually) were just not that impressed with the food.

I wish Takahashi were not so far out. I'd go there more often.

[Edited 6/15] Meiji-en on NE B'way between 22-24 is very good, not to mention close to my house, owner/chef from Sinju. Great tempura.

Obi is one of those unjustly overlooked places, been around forever, in oldtown, on 2nd or 3rd. Love the avocadonia & rock & roll. They have a picture book for their specialty rolls.

Hama (means "beach") Sushi is good, but I was kinda put off by their window sign that advertised a lunch special for a certain amount, but that was the price for only one of the four specials. A little misleading.

Yellow & red stuff? You mean the strange mayo sauces? Sad to say, that's authentic.
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#17 Jill-O

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 11:30 AM

Murata is my fave in town (and I agree, the dinners are a good value, and it isn't that expensive) followed by The Takehashi out on Holgate at 104th. I've never been, but I hear from many sources that the Takehashi in downtown/oldtown sucks.

The gas station on 92nd and Holgate usually has some of the cheaper gas in town, fyi...

Then there's Obi in oldtown (3rd and Couch? 4th? it's around there). Some things there are amazing. THE BEST EEL I've ever had anywhere. He really grills it, doesn't reheat it in a toaster over and slap sweet sauce on it. The Oregon roll is huge - a delicious combo of salmon, dungeness crab, asparagus, mushrooms.
If you are a fan of avocado, as my crazy Calabrese is, the avocadonia is a great choice. Some other fun names for the rolls like, Calitunafornia, make it fun. Good miso and free edamame at dinner make it a nice change from the usual suspects.

wtf is with the yellow and red stuff??
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#18 Hakan

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 11:07 AM

Howz about Sushi Kafe K on Broadway or Hama Sushi on Sandy?

#19 SportEater

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 11:32 AM

Sushi K's closed, as of about 2 months ago. It was pretty good, but always slow. It's now a Thai restaurant, of course.

There's a new place on Broadway at about23rd, Meiji-en I think, which had very good sushi on my one visit earlier this week.

#20 Piper

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 12:09 PM

Okay, all you Portland "Food Guru's"...... I need to impress some corporate people coming into town for business. They have requested Japanese/Sushi. What are the BEST options in Portland? (No chains, please).

Thanks so much for your help.