Portland has over 50 sushi restaurants but precious few dining rooms that serve other traditional Japanese fare. Enter Biwa (215 SE 9th Ave., 503/307-9274, www.biwarestaurant.com, 5 p.m.–close Mon.–Sat., $3–12), an excellent Portland-style representation of an izakaya, a Japanese sake-and-beer bar where patrons gather to drink and dine on a multitude of highly flavored and shareable dishes.
Don’t expect kimono-clad servers or Madama Butterfly interiors: This semi-subterranean dining room is an exercise in industrial chic, with boisterous crowds and a showcase open kitchen. In addition to maguro poke, raw yellowfin tuna showered with shoyu and feathered with seaweed, wonderful salads (the baby octopus and cucumber salad is marvelous), and house-made pickles, there are handmade ramen and udon noodles served both cold in salads and hot as steaming bowls of soup.
For sushi, go to Bamboo Sushi (310 SE 28th Ave., 503/232-5255, 5–10 p.m. daily, rolls $4–14), with a stylish dining room and a vast selection of fish that has been harvested according to “green” and sustainable practices.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel