Portland is a nationally renowned foodie city only an hour away from the Pacific Ocean, so it should come as no surprise that the city’s sushi options are both delicious and expansive, with a venue for every preference, mood, occasion and neighborhood. Enjoy rolls, nigiri and Japanese fare at these stellar sushi spots.
With a location in almost every quadrant of Portland, Bamboo Sushi is perhaps the city’s most beloved sushi staple. Portlanders appreciate the establishment for its commitment to environmentalism; The Marine Stewardship Council even declared it the world’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant. Bamboo also offers chic ambiance, a very knowledgeable wait staff and patio and sidewalk seating for your people-watching pleasure. If you have work to do, simply plug in at the end of the bar, nibble on edamame and sip on your Dragon cocktail while you wait for your Green Machine roll, loaded with tempura-fried beans and topped with avocado and a savory cilantro chili aioli.
As if the gorgeous city view from the west deck of Departure weren’t enough of a draw, chef Gregory Gourdet, who finished second in season 12 of Top Chef, brings his love of healthful eating and elegant design to his sushi presentation. In addition to rolls stuffed with caviar, beef tenderloin or sweet potato tempura, the award-winning date-night favorite also offers other noteworthy Asian-inspired dishes. Try the fried rice topped with sunny side up egg, the spicy coconut seafood broth, or vegetarian options such as the sweet and sour mango curry.
As far as sushi-go-rounds go, Sushi Ichiban has been a local favorite for years. A cheery staple in Old Town Chinatown, Ichiban is loved for its low prices, quality ingredients and rock music soundtrack. Order your favorite rolls off the menu or pluck a few fresh creations off the conveyor-belt train.
Yama Sushi and Sake Bar
Just a 10-minute walk from Sushi Ichiban is Yama Sushi and Sake Bar, a highly regarded spot in the Pearl District with delicious and creative offerings. Diners go crazy for its famous layered ahi tuna tower and baked lobster rolls; whatever you choose, add an order of the Flaming Jack roll (asparagus, spicy tuna, salmon or shrimp, avocado and Cajun sauce), which arrives at your table encircled in flames.
An authentic Japanese restaurant in the suburbs of Southwest Portland, Sho is great for family outings, offering an expansive space and a variety of seating options. Traveling alone? Grab a seat at the bar, where you can watch sumo wrestling (or a Blazers game) while you dine. Sushi, served on wooden boards amidst modern decor, includes both traditional offerings and creative rolls like the Sun Set (shrimp, avocado, cucumber, asparagus and seared tuna) and the Flamingo (tuna, avocado, spicy sauce and cream cheese, cooked tempura-style). Customers also come here for the Kobe beef and spectacular sauces, which you can buy by the bottle.
Situated on bustling Mississippi Avenue, Samurai Blue features a hip aesthetic, breezy outdoor seating and a dynamic sushi menu. Try one of their flavorful rolls, such as the Fire in the Hole (spicy tuna, salmon, shitake mushroom, avocado mash, tempura flakes, spicy ponzu and fried garlic) or Mango Tango (blue crab, avocado, tempura shrimp, mango, balsamic reduction and coconut flakes), and pair it with the Barefoot Samurai cocktail, a beachy concoction of coconut rum, nigori sake, pineapple, basil and lime. In addition to imaginative sushi, Samurai Blue also serves a great bento box lunch and delicious veggie tempura.
Uchu Sushi and Fried Chicken
In this city of indulgent idealists, someone was bound to do something as weirdly awesome as combining sushi and soul food. In addition to classic rolls and sashimi — and fried chicken wings — Mississippi Avenue’s Uchu Sushi and Fried Chicken offers creative rolls like the Symphony #9 (tempura shrimp, crab salad, baked salmon and ponzu sauce) as well as a slew of vegan and gluten-free rolls stuffed with ingredients like fried eggplant, asparagus and tofu.
East of the Sellwood Bridge, you’ll find Saburo’s, a small but popular sushi house in Southeast Portland’s Westmoreland neighborhood (look for a green awning with tiny letters). Known for its high value and generous serving sizes, Saburo’s has been drawing crowds since it opened way back in 1988. You should expect a wait to get in, but when a platter of monstrous unagi, hamachi, creamy scallop and salmon skin rolls arrive at your table, you’ll find the wait was worth it.