A quartet of tatami welcomes guests into a traditional Japanese dining experience, replete with short-legged tables and floor mats to sit on. To help diners become one with the culturally distinctive surrounds, servers dispense and occasionally spoon-feed classic entrees that include broiled salmon covered in teriyaki sauce, korean barbecue ribs, and deep-fried chicken katsu. Patrons can also dine at American-style tables in the main dining room or sidle up to the sushi bar to ponder 20 nigiri and 21 specialty rolls with names such as Salmon Killer and I Love Shrimp.:m]]
At Umi Sushi Japanese Restaurant, chefs busy chopsticks with 14 specialty sushi rolls and a menu of traditional Japanese dishes. Servers stroll through the placid dining room, rescuing empty plates from the clutches of Olympic-discus hopefuls and dotting the yellow tablecloths with appetizers, such as the taco su's octopus, cucumber, and seaweed salad ($7.50). Behind the sushi bar, fresh ingredients merge together to create raw and cooked nigiri sushi ($3.50+), vegetarian maki ($3.50+), and specialty maki, including the dragon roll with eel ($8.95 for seven pieces). The Umi special sauce marinates thin strips of short-cut ribs ($11.95–$13.95), and the Tanshin bento box ($12.50 for a large) partitions teriyaki flavors into culinary cubbyholes. Diners can augment meals with scoops of green-tea ice cream ($3.95) or signal their departure by gurgling imported beer, wine, or sake.
Bouquets of bamboo enliven the tapestry-draped walls of Yuki Sushi and Sake Bar, where fresh-minded chefs craft traditional Japanese fare using local organic ingredients whenever possible. Sushi rolls feature some of the chef's own creations, such as the Atomic crawfish, which dons a cape of Cajun salsa and tempura, is made up of fresh jalapeño and cream cheese, and imbues feasters with superpowers. Yuki's house teriyaki liberally ladles over much of the hot-entree menu at both the Portland and Hillsboro locations, and sake from both overseas and Oregonian brewers keeps diners' thirst sated. Both spots offer either dine-in or carry-out, and [drinks and sushi specials pepper the weekly calendar.
BaRa Sushi House keeps the focus on the fish. Its precisely, appealingly arranged sushi and appetizers lean heavily on seafood imported from Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market every week. BaRa's chefs greet each day with its very own special plate, constantly editing the menu in the hopes of finally crafting that perfect tiny replica of Michelangelo's David from yellowfin tuna. Sake is always flowing inside the snug, vintage house-turned-diner thanks to Marcus Pakiser, sake sommelier. Guests may dine on the outdoor patio when the weather permits, or host a party for up to 9 in the private tatami room.
The bamboo steamers sit conspicuously behind the glass counter, spirals of steam escaping their closed lids as guests peer at the expansive menu and consider their options. There are three types of dumplings and four kinds of bao filled with the likes of barbecue pork, Szechuan chicken, coconut custard, and adzuki bean paste. In addition, the menu offers pad thai noodles and banh mi sandwiches. Guests sip loose-leaf teas to complement the meals, soaking in the sun from the large windows or out on the sidewalk patio.
The menu at Ukiyoe reflects 30 years of owner Jin Park refining his approach to Japanese cooking. A selection of more than 50 different sushi rolls daunts indecisive appetites and delights craftsmen looking to put wheels on an edible model car. In addition to Japanese staples such as teriyaki and tempura, the eatery serves maki sushi rolled with calamari, vegetables, and fresh salmon.