Japanese-People Approved Best Japanese Restaurants in Portland

Portland is known for coffee and beer. Do you know who loves coffee and beer? Hipsters. There are many hipsters in Portland. They also like sushi and ramen. So naturally, there are many Japanese restaurants of which, both hipsters and Japanese expats approve!

  1. Zilla Sake House (Sushi)
  2. Masu Sushi (Sushi)
  3. Shizuku by Chef Naoko (Sushi)
  4. Afuri (Ramen)
  5. Kayo’s Ramen Bar (Ramen)
  6. Biwa (Izakaya)
  7. Yuzu (Izakaya)
  8. Parasol Bar (Izakaya)
  9. Nodoguro (Japanese Fusion)
  10. Oyatsupan Bakers (Bakerly)

1. Zilla Sake House

Sushi

portland-zilla

Photo Credit: http://www.zillasake.com/

Even in the year 2017, a female sushi chef is rare, especially when it comes to traditional sushi. Kate Koo, a sushi chef and sake expert, apprenticed with a Japanese sushi chef before she opened Zilla. She continues to respect the learning from her culinary master by serving only the traditional, no-crazy-spicy-mayo, eel sauce drenched rolls. Although she serves a California roll, it breaks the mold as it is made with real dungeness crab. Zilla just finished its renovation after a decade of treating Portlanders. So check them out and treat yourself to a better sushi meal!

portland-zilla

Photo Credit: http://www.zillasake.com/

What to order:

Anything that Chef Kate recommends. Up early? You can try a proper Japanese breakfast plate without flying to Japan! Ask which sake to drink with your meal, because Zilla carries are over 80 kinds of sake.

Restaurant Info of Zilla Sake House:

Navigation: 1806 NE Alberta St., Portland, OR 97211
Ring: 503-288-8372
Surf: www.zillasake.com

 

2. Masu Sushi

Sushi

portland-masu

Photo Credit: http://masusushi.com/

The woody interior with its red mountain mural with blue carpet suggests modern Tokyo, and so does the food. Just like in Tokyo, there are a variety of styles of Japanese food at Masu, with everything from matcha cocktails to fun rolls to ramen. There’s something for everyone. Omnivores can enjoy cooked dishes like wagyu steak or smoked black cod, while vegetarians will appreciate tempura brussels sprouts and vegetarian sushi. If all of that doesn’t convince you, maybe a cocktail named Hello Kitty will.

What to order:

Something simple? Go with chirashi sushi. Fresh seafood on top of perfect sushi rice will never disappoint. Feeling like something fun? The Mt. Helen Volcano Roll is your answer. Yes, it comes with volcano like cucumber on the side with REAL fire coming out from it. The roll itself is delicious with white fish, crab, scallops and shrimp roll baked with their original volcano sauce and topped with dancing smoked bonito. It’s a show and a treat at the same time.

Restaurant Info of Masu Sushi:

Navigation: 406 SW 13th Ave. Ste 202, Portland, OR 97205
Ring: 503-221-6278
Surf: http://masusushi.com/

 

3. Shizuku by Chef Naoko

Kaiseki

portland-shizuku

Photo Credit: http://www.shizukupdx.com/

Chef Naoko started her career making bento boxes for hungry Portlanders. Then, she opened the beautiful Shizuku to showcase her fine dining skills. She uses produce from local farms to create refined Japanese comfort food, which Japanese people want to eat every day. Despite being new to foreigners, many dishes are familiar Japanese staples. You won’t find chicken teriyaki, but you’ll find panko crusted deep fried wild prawn with tartar sauce and hazelnut tofu.

portland-shizuku-dish

Photo Credit: http://www.shizukupdx.com/

What to order:

Kaiseki is available for $65 per person, and you need to request it at least 24 hours in advance. If you didn’t make a reservation, bento is a great way to sample Shizuku. It comes with one protein, such as Carlton pork cutlet or wild Alaskan salmon with salad, vegetable dishes, rice and organic miso soup.

Restaurant Info of Shizuku by Chef Naoko:

Navigation: 1237 SW Jefferson St., Portland, OR 97201
Ring: 503-227-4136
Surf: www.shizukupdx.com

 

4. Afuri

Ramen

portland-afuri

Photo Credit: http://afuri.us/

Considered to be one of the best ramen-ya in Tokyo, Afuri has only been around since 2001. Most people expected that Afuri will open their first American locations in NYC or in LA, (where many large Japanese companies open their first flagship stores), but Afuri picked Portland, for its quality water source, Mt. Hood. This isn’t surprising, since their central kitchen in Japan is located in Atsugi City, near Mt. Afuri, where the highest quality natural mineral water can be sourced for their ramen. We wonder where they will open next.

portland-afuri-ramen

Photo Credit: http://afuri.us/

What to order:

Yuzu Shio ramen is what to come here for. Unlike popular tori-paitan or tonkotsu, it comes with a clear chicken broth and is seasoned with their own salt blend and a squeeze of yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit known for its tangy sweet aroma.

Restaurant Info of Afuri:

Navigation: 923 SE 7th Ave., Portland, OR 97214
Ring: 503-468-5001
Surf: afuri.us

 

5. Kayo’s Ramen Bar

Ramen

portland-kayo

Photo Credit: http://www.kayosramen.com/

Kayo’s Ramen Bar should be called Kayo’s artisanal ramen bar, because everything they do, has extra effort put into it. Their broths are either clear and light or thick and cloudy, and they are all made in house by simmering vegetables, chicken and beef bones. You can select a sauce for your broth from 17 kinds, which are all made fresh daily at the restaurant. Kayo’s Ramen Bar has dedicated over 3 months and 47 tries to perfect their noodles using high protein, pesticide-free Canadian wheat flour. The result is a clean and umami packed ramen dish. Bonus: They offer low and no carb noodles, too…

portland-kayos-ramen-dish

Photo Credit: http://www.kayosramen.com/

What to order:

Tantan ramen is one of their more popular ramen dishes along with soy sauce ramen with its spicy ground pork topping. For something unique, try wasabi smoked salmon ramen!

Restaurant Info of Kayo’s Ramen Bar:

Navigation: 3808 N. Williams Ave. #124, Portland, OR 97227
Ring: 503-477-6016
Surf: www.kayosramen.com

6. Biwa

Izakaya

portland-biwa

Photo Credit: http://www.biwaizakaya.com/

Biwa solves the problem of izakaya food. When you go to an izakaya, there’s a massive menu, where everything looks delicious and you want eat it all. The problem is you are just one person and there’s no way you can order everything from the assorted sashimi, croquettes, karaage fried chicken, ramen and dumplings. Biwa offers an omakase menu as well as family style menus. Omakase starts with chawanmushi, a savory Japanese custard, plenty of raw seafood, noodles and rice balls and pork belly and oysters in between.

portland-biwa-dish

Photo Credit: http://www.biwaizakaya.com/

What to order:

Omakase starts at $75 per person, and family style starts at $45 per person. They are both well curated to experience Japanese food by Biwa.

Restaurant Info at Biwa:

Navigation: 215 SE 9th Ave. Ste 101, Portland, OR 97214
Ring: 503-239-8830
Surf: www.biwaizakaya.com

 

7. Yuzu

Izakaya

Named after the Japanese citrus fruit, Yuzu is offers basic Japanese staples, just like a neighborhood izakaya in Japan would. There are wooden plates with Japanese words on it on the window, which is a typical Japanese style menu that changes daily. People come here for the at-home atmosphere and friendly service. Sure, there’s no gold flake dusted caviar rolls on the menu, but you can depend on Yuzu’s agedashi tofu, kakuni and grilled fish any day!

What to order:

Agedashi tofu and fried chicken are great ways to start your izakaya experience! If you are in the area during lunch, order rice bowls. Their beef bowls and curry ramen are local favorites.

Restaurant Info of Yuzu:

Navigation: 4130 SW 117th Ave. Ste H, Beaverton, OR 97005
Ring: 503-350-1801

 

8. Parasol Bar

Izakaya

portland-parasol

Photo Credit: http://parasolbar.com/

Parasol Bar is the latest venture from the owners of Biwa, with the difference being Parasol is more casual, and the menu is simpler. It’s a little bit like a cool Japanese diner with awesome drinks. On the food menu, there are classic Japanese comfort foods like okonomiyaki, udon, ramen and curry rice, plus curry poutine! As for the drinks, there is sake, wine, tons of beer and cocktails. They also have a karaoke night, so go out and have some fun, Japanese-style!

portland-parasol-dish

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/parasolpdx/

What to order:

Nabeyaki udon is comforting on a cold night, while ramen is a great hangover cure. Or, if you haven’t had Japanese curry, try it. It is not as spicy as the Thai or Indian versions, but it’s definitley heartier. Once you have a bite, you’ll understand why curry is one of the most beloved Japanese comfort foods!

Restaurant Info at Parasol Bar:

Navigation: 215 SE 9th Ave., Portland, OR 97214
Ring: 503-239-8830
Surf: parasolbar.com

 

9. Nodoguro

Japanese Fusion

portland-nodoguro

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: http://www.nodoguropdx.com/

Nodoguro is a one-of-a-kind restaurant. Not because you need a “ticket” to get in, but rather, because the creativity of the food is something you don’t see anywhere else. What Chef Ryan Roadhouse does is sosaku (creative) ryori (cuisine). Isn’t every culinary dish creative? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean it’s up to Nodoguro’s standard. Once you score a ticket, you won’t know what to expect on your plate until you receive an email 48 hours before the meal; that’s when Roadhouse finalizes what he wants to cook. Roadhouse will create the entire meal based on a theme, like Twin Peaks, or Studio Ghibli films, then his interpretation of a Japanese kaiseki-like presentation. Sounds like an adventure you’d like to take? Good luck! They release tickets once a month, one at a time.

portland-nodoguro-dish

Photo Credit: http://www.nodoguropdx.com/

What to order:

No menu. Relax and enjoy what the chef creates!

Restaurant Info at Nodoguro:

Navigation: 2832 SE Belmont St., Portland, OR 97214
Surf: www.nodoguropdx.com

 

10. Oyatsupan Bakers

Bakerly

portland-oyatsupan

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: https://www.oyatsupan.com/

A lesser known fact about Japan, but important to know: Japanese bakeries make superior and sometimes odd bread products, like custard cream pan and yakisoba pan. The former is sweet, vanilla custard filled bread, while the latter is a dinner roll filled with yakisoba, aka stir fried noodles. These are staples at Japanese bakeries, and they are available in Portland… ok, a bit outside Portland, in Beaverton.

portland-oyatsupan-dish

Photo Credit: https://www.oyatsupan.com/

What to order:

Buy shokupan (a rectangular loaf of white bread), and make toast, and I will guarantee that you’ll never buy Wonder Bread again. As for oyatsu (snack) pan (bread), curry donuts are filled with thick curry and deep fried. Or, for more exotic carb on carb action, go for yakisoba pan.

Restaurant Info at Oyatsupan Bakers:

Navigation: 16025 SW Regatta Ln.,Beaverton, OR 97006
Ring: 503-941-5251
Surf: www.oyatsupan.com

 
*All prices, numbers and menu descriptions mentioned in the article are from the time of this article’s publishing. So keep in mind, they may have changed since then.

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