Unlike at most restaurants, waiting for food is half the fun at Sushi Sakura. A gleaming conveyer belt meanders around the room, transporting a steady stream of sushi-filled plates directly to diners’ tables. Guests are encouraged to remain on the lookout for anything that looks to their liking by constantly scanning the lineup for anything from spicy tuna hand rolls to tender slices of octopus.
Rather than hang a price tag from each roll, the chefs strategically place them on plates in different colors—purple, blue, green, orange, red, and infrared—according to their price. At the end of the meal, the servers calculate the bill by totaling the number and color of the plates that the table selected.
The chrome conveyer belt is a modern touch amid the décor's traditional Japanese accents. Patterned shoji screens and dangling red lanterns emblazoned with kanji provide a bit more flavor from across the Pacific, reinforcing the eatery's dedication to Japan’s culinary traditions.
Uchu Sushi and Fried Chicken’s chefs deftly assemble sustainably sourced seafood into creative sushi rolls, served alongside Japanese-style katsu fried chicken and vegetarian-friendly fusion fare. The expert blade-wielders transform meals from raw fish to raw fish on a plate as patrons watch from behind a lengthy bar, just feet away from two gargantuan water tanks filled with saltwater and fresh-water sea life. Cocktails from Uchu’s drink menu are meticulously blended, complementing other libations such as Oregon-brewed and artisan Japanese sake, as well as shochu, a Japanese spirit often made from sweet potato, rice, or barley.
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.
Hana’s culinary engineers compose a menu of traditional Japanese fare buoyed by 36 creative specialty rolls, delicate sashimi, noodle and teriyaki plates, and a library of sake libations. The Mt. Hood roll pays homage to its towering namesake with a mound of tempura shrimp and crab salad cascaded with spicy salmon and eel sauce ($9), and the Salmon Generation roll reveres the generation that swims upstream, yet later in life returns to where they were born toting dirty laundry and bulky band equipment ($9). A hot dish of beef teriyaki sates red-meat appetites ($11.50), and yakisoba swirls slippery noodles with chicken or veggies onto plates ($7.50). With a collection of five sake classes, each boasting several vintages that vary in taste and finish, a premium sake flight grants sips with which to hydrate a parched craw ($18).
At Wild Wasabe, meals are nearly as much about presentation as they are about flavor. The sushi chefs deftly wrap fresh fish and spicy sauces into rolls, then plate them, into edible artworks resembling dragons, sunbursts, or American Gothic. The kitchen also heats up hot soups and entrees, and pours out premium sake, wine, and Japanese beers to complement meals. Diners sip while watching the sushi experts sculpt their appetizing works, or glance at the large flat screen television to fill their eyes as well as their stomachs.
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.