A trek through Portland’s bucolic Japanese Gardens may leave you feeling peaceful but with a lingering appetite for something more than just its lush scenery. And with a sister city like Sapporo, Japan, Portland’s love of all things Japanese shines through, right down to our abundance of fresh, tasty sushi. But we all know great Japanese fare can tap your wallet — unless you know how to play for cheaps.
Portland’s traditional, modern and family-friendly Japanese restaurants serve everything from sushi and bento to donburi and even a Japanese inspired hamburger. Here are a handful of the best around and the most economic way to eat yourself to shifuku (bliss). HINT: Happy Hours are key.
Bush Garden Japanese Restaurant
Bush Gardens is one of the most complete Japanese restaurant experiences in town. This large downtown restaurant has a sushi bar, karaoke, traditional seating and Tatami rooms. The menu ranges from sushi (nigiri and roll) and sashimi to hot entrees like noodles (udon, soba), donburi, teriyaki, sukiyaki, tempura and shabu-shabu. And with a happy hour menu available every day you could stay sushi sated all week long. ($2.50 Happy Hour from 5pm-9pm everyday.)
900 SW Morrison St
Portland, OR 97205
This super-hip take on Japanese cooking is known, as much for its cocktails, as it is for its food. The modern décor here echoes the menu’s updated options like the kobe beef miso-butter burger with shitake mushrooms or roasted chicken ramen bowl with bok choy and poached quail egg. Masu’s creativity extends to their sushi—try the death by sushi, a 6 piece roll filled with salmon, unagi, crab, avocado and cream cheese fried and topped with masago, green onion, fantasy and eel sauces. Happy Hour from 3pm to 6pm and 10pm to close Monday thru Friday, 5pm to 6pm and 10pm to close on Saturday and from 5pm to 6pm on Sunday.
406 SW 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97205
Opened in 1994 in a Victorian in Portland’s Nob Hill/Uptown, this locals’ favorite now has five Portland locations (seven in the greater area) and was named Best Sushi by AM Northwest, Willamette Week, Portland Citysearch and AOL city guide. Mio serves quality sushi, bento, udon, ramen and yakisoba at affordable prices and even features a Happy Hour from 4pm to 6pm on weekdays.
2271 NW Johnson Street
Portland, OR 503-221-1469
To find other locations visit their website.
Saburo’s Sushi House Restaurant
Serving “Texas-sized” sushi in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood since 1988, Saburo’s has a reputation for big portions and a casual family dining atmosphere. Besides sushi and traditional Japanese cuisine like yakitori, tempura and gyoza , Saburo’s spices things up with more adventurous fare like fried baby octopus, creamy scallops and their signature, “Dynamite in the Oven”(baked shellfish, mushrooms and onion in a rich sauce.) What makes Saburo’s cheap? The fact the sushi is so big you order less to get full. Tip: Don’t miss the vibrant Japanese mural in the back room, painted by a local Portland artist.
667 SE Bybee St
Portland, Oregon 97202
The only conveyor belt sushi I will let pass these lips. They keep the line fairly simple but will make what you want to order as well. No need for happy hour- prices are great all day long! They even have great chicken teriyaki skewers on the belt as well as dessert. Family-friendly it’s usually chock-o-block with kids checking out the super cool undersea murals that cover the walls. Bonus: They play nothing but 80′s music.
1514 NW 23rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97210