Japanese Taste, Portland Style
During the mid-Edo Period of Japanese feudalism the Yakuza caste was made up of misfits and undesirables easily identified by their elaborate tattoos and non-conformist hairdos. The Yakuza formed extended “families” and lived off the feudal grid in their own secluded villages and neighborhoods. Our restaurant name pays homage to these original black sheep of a highly structured society. We like to think they’d feel right at home in Portland, amongst our own merry bands of beautiful outcasts.
Can a restaurant be Umami? I think that conceptually Yakuza is pure umami. It’s a magic place where you can eat and drink spectacular things.
Did that just make me sound really, super annoying, like some foodie you see on the Food Network that you wish would just shut up about the umami, the coulis and the ragout? I couldn’t help myself. Yakuza is kind of that kind of place but without pretension. Without attitude.
What to Wear?
After looking at the images on Yakuza’s site I was afraid that I’d be underdressed for dinner. The interior, simple and elegant. The food, meticulously and beautifully plated. I was afraid my pink kicks would be totally out of place. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes Yakuza is simple and elegant and the food, gorgeous. But the minute we walked through what seemed like almost a hidden little entrance on NE 30th Avenue I felt like I’d walked into a place where the rest of the world didn’t exist. I was in this Zen-like cocoon and it didn’t seem like anything mattered, other than enjoying whatever they had to offer.
Cocktails. Yes Please.
Let’s start with cocktails. Yes, let’s. Ginger Fizz for me. Bartenders in Portland are truly alchemists. The idea of combining fresh ginger, Medoyeff vodka, lime, simple syrup and bubbles is brilliant. Essentially for me anything with bubbles is brilliant.
I would like to stick with the cocktails, but a girl’s got to eat. The food…Yes we ordered and ate all of this. Happily. With joy. Maybe with glee in fact.
The Crazy Good Food
Tartare – Jalapeno Lime Oil, Quail Egg Yolk, Scallion, Brioche
Ahi Proscuitto – Salt Cured Tuna, Crispy Pear, Meyer Lemon Oil
Really Spicy – Ahi Tuna, Avocado, Mango, Basil, Thai Chili
Spicy Tuna (because Really Spicy wasn’t enough) – Minced Ahi Tuna, Jicama, Kaiware
Ribs – Braised Back Ribs, Q Sauce, Cilantro Sprout, Sesame
Scallop Tempura – Shredded Filo, Creamy Spicy Sauce, Nori
There’s a possibility that I may have licked the plate one or two times. Okay, I wasn’t that gauche. I used a spoon or my finger to get the last of the goodness. How isn’t that gauche? I know.
The chef, also magic. Combining scallops with shredded filo – inspired and delicious. The tartare was so incredible that I could have order 3 more. But I had other things to eat.
Even though we ordered and loved every morsel that passed through our lips we had food envy as we watched other people eating other fabulous dishes. Yakuza is a ‘date night’ kind of place. Yes it’s that special even if you’re wearing pink Chucks and shorts. Take your time. Enjoy. Eat and eat some more.
5411 NE 30th Avenue Portland
tele 503 450 0893
Stunning, absolutely gorgeous image of the Filo Scallops courtesy of the Yakuza Lounge website and whoever their amazing photographer may be.