It takes chutzpah and chops to flip the script on formal Japanese cuisine and sushi art. Nodoguro did just that, adding a chatterbox dinner-party vibe, maverick dishes, and zany pop culture muses from Twin Peaks to computer games. Fervent followers snatch up reservations faster than Taylor Swift can dump a boyfriend. The rare package of accomplished cooking, left-field thinking, and super personal service earned Nodoguro Portland Monthly’s nod as 2015’s Restaurant of the Year. Turns out, this was only the beginning for chef Ryan Roadhouse and his wife, Elena, the house mood master. In May, the couple jumped from a jerry-rigged Hawthorne kitchen to Belmont’s storied Genoa space, which they recast as an intimate, Zen-vintage stage for their Michelin-caliber meals.
Diners still gather around one chef’s table for creative tasting menus and the exceptional “Hardcore Sushi” feasts. But the chairs are now cushy Italian leather, not tush-numbing planks. And while necessity is the mother of invention, what a difference a real stove makes. Recent case in point: breathtaking bites of super-fresh egg-custard “tortilla” hiding beneath toasted, charred sardines (inspired by, of all things, Salvador Dalí’s cookbook). This would have been impossible in the old bootstrapping mode. True believers assemble for the new, twice-monthly “Supahardcore” dinners, a portal into Roadhouse’s sushi world and current food obsessions, in 21 courses.
What hasn’t changed? You still need to get a jump on it. Join the e-mail list for the once-a-month release of reservation times.