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. Locals 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 (made with Thai chile-infused sake, guava, hibiscus and lime) while you wait for your Green Machine roll (loaded with tempura-fried beans and green onion and topped with avocado and a cilantro sweet chili aioli).
As if the gorgeous city views from the west deck of Departure weren’t enough of a draw, the restaurant’s original Director of Culinary Operations Gregory Gourdet (who finished second in season 12 of Top Chef) brought his love of healthful eating and elegant design to Departure’s sushi presentation. In addition to rolls stuffed with smoked radish and fermented chili, the award-winning date-night favorite also offers other noteworthy Asian-inspired dishes. Try their fried rice topped with sunny-side-up egg, the Vietnamese duck curry or vegetarian options like charred carrots topped with chili, orange, cashew and sour coconut cream.
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, toy train-inspired sushi conveyor belt 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 love the layered ahi tuna tower and baked lobster rolls. (Whatever you choose, add an order of the “Flaming Jack” roll — made with 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 Portland Trail Blazers game) while you dine. Sushi, served on wooden boards amidst modern decor, includes both traditional offerings and creative rolls like the “Sunset” (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 Wagyu steak, ramen and spectacular sauces, which you can buy by the bottle (see their website to check out the flavors).
Nodoguro is an Omakase-style (meaning the chef chooses for you) Japanese restaurant featuring an eclectic, multi-course menu (usually around 15 courses) that changes with the seasons. Geared toward the adventurous eater, this intimate, ticketed dinner only reveals its monthly menu hours before diners arrive. Originally a pop-up in Northeast Portland, Nodoguro has found a permanent home on Southeast Belmont Street. Their desire to offer fun Japanese cuisine with a focus on Portland’s great farms and amazing dining public has remained the same.
Uchu Sushi & 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, of course — North Mississippi Avenue’s Uchu Sushi and Fried Chicken offers creative rolls like the “Symphony #9” (featuring tempura-fried 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.
Northeast of the Sellwood Bridge, you’ll find Saburo’s, a small but popular sushi house in Southeast Portland (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.
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