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1. Biwa215 SE 9th Ave, Portland
2. The American Local3003 SE Division St, Portland
3. Yuzu4130 SW 117th Ave, Beaverton
4. nodoguro3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
5. Yama Sushi & Sake Bar2038 SE Clinton St, Portland
6. Shigezo IzakayaSW Salmon Street, Portland
7. Tanuki8029 SE Stark St, Portland
8. MiHo Izakaya4057 N Interstate Ave, Portland
Biwa is a Japanese restaurant serving up yakitori, ramen, and the occasional burger in SE Portland.
Though a modern izakaya is not exactly what you’d expect from a place called The American Local, the food delivers. Expect everything from octopus skewers to grit cakes, fresh-baked Parker house rolls to shrimp-fried quinoa.
Located in a strip mall in Beaverton -- don't even look for a sign, the only marking is "Yuzu" on the glass door -- this spot is surprisingly comfortable. Japanese-born chef and owner, Yoshi Gemma, serves traditional izakaya, such as light gyoza (dumplings), juicy tori no karaage (fried chicken), and melty buta no kakuni (sake-braised pork belly).
A wildly popular Japanese pop-up experience went brick-and-mortar in Hawthorne's Nodoguro, but that doesn't mean things are getting predictable. Ticketed themed omakase feasts are full of surprises, with frequently changing menus that cater to the truest of hardcore sushi fans. There are three central types of experiences: Sousaka, Hardcore (19 courses), and SupaHardcore (21 courses), where diners should expect both traditional sushi and out-there experimental plates.
Chef and owner Scott Chae, who was born in Korea, isn't afraid to innovate. He offers both traditional and American-style izakaya, ranging from Kobe beef skewers with truffle salt, to tender, flash-seared razor clam with wasabi-yuzu dressing. Drinks include chuhai -- shōchū cocktails with fruit puree and soda water -- and the sake menu is loaded with by-the-glass options.
This Downtown spot, which is part of a Japan-based franchise, is all about hidden recesses, from washitsu -- matt-covered rooms where you don slippers and sit on the floor -- to booths with curtains. Try the seared tuna carpaccio with ponzu dressing and spicy mayo or anything from the robata grill, especially the saba (seared mackerel).
Tanuki prides itself on being niche, catering to lovers of drinking foods from Japan, Korea and Okinawa. Drinking foods, for the uninitiated, are foods that are meant to be eaten along with alcoholic beverages, and with the huge selection of craft Sake, Japanese whiskey and Shochu available, you should have no problem finding a combination that fits your particular palate. Oh, and no sushi or kids allowed. Rules are rules!
Opened on Mississippi in 2009 by Hawaiian-born Chef Michael Miho, MiHo sits in a tiny bungalow with a red izakaya lantern hanging outside and has specials like $7 roasted game hen and $2 tallboys. With a casual, neighborhood vibe and cheap dishes, it’s a great introduction to izakaya.