Nigiri from Zilla Sake

Can’t get enough raw fish and rice? We can relate. From thoughtfully packaged takeout boxes to funky sushi bars, traditional joints with classic ‘80s charm to creative vegan rolls, our sushi scene has something to offer nearly everyone.

Afuri Izakaya

Oregon albacore and unagi nigiri

This Japanese chain might be known for its excellent ramen, made with handmade noodles, but don't sleep on its wide selection of nigiri. We particularly like the clean, crisp bincho (Oregon albacore) and the housemade unagi, which is exceptionally meaty and delicately seasoned, unlike the overly sweet versions you'll find at many other places. Pair them with a sake flight or Afuri's own yuzu lager. Dine indoors or out, or take your food to go. 923 SE 7th Ave, Portland and 12555 SW 1st St, Beaverton,

Bluefin Tuna & Sushi

Sushi is beautiful, yes, but have you ever described it as cute? Bluefin Tuna & Sushi, whose original location opened in Seoul in 2011, offers adorable round temari nigiri that look petite from a bird’s eye view, but pack just as much fish as a normal nigiri by wrapping the fish around a ball of rice. The fish here tastes vibrant and fatty, and hand-written labels on takeout boxes help you keep track of which nigiri is which. Our favorite way to order the temari nigiri is as part of a set, where you get assorted nigiri, a simple roll of your choice, miso soup, and a salad topped with citrusy tuna poke—all for as little as $22. Takeout and indoor dining available. 1337 NE Broadway,

Fish & Rice

No, Fish & Rice is not traditional sushi—it calls itself a Japanese-inspired restaurant—but like the name suggests, this place likes to keep its flavors fresh and simple. We particularly like the Neskowin roll, which combines salmon tataki, avocado, cucumber, and radish sprouts, And while many sushi restaurants don’t even stock real crab, favoring the imitation version, a wild red crab salad comes on the side of your roll, dressed in honey wasabi aioli. You also can’t go wrong with an order of hamachi or uni nigiri, or choosing from an extensive list of creative poke bowls with ingredients like K-Pop Sauce or pico de gallo. The vegetarian rolls combine hearty things like tomato, asparagus, or guacamole, ensuring there’s something for pretty much anyone. You’ll have to get your fish and rice via takeout only for now. 2332 NW Westover Rd,


Kazumi's scallop nigiri, fried oyster roll, and Midori roll

Kazumi sits at the corner of the St. Johns Beer Porch food cart pod, featured in the Portland restaurant industry-set Nicolas Cage movie Pig. There, sushi chef Kazumi Boyd slices up creative rolls, while her husband John takes phone and in-person orders for what can be a 30 minute wait (if you’re lucky to get there before they’re sold out). Born in Japan, Boyd was determined to become a sushi chef—but found it nearly impossible to find someone in either Japan or New York who would train a woman. After gaining some experience in NYC, she moved to Portland, where she worked at sushi institutions Masu and Bamboo. At Kazumi, her passion shows in nigiri and creative, carefully executed rolls, all made with sustainable seafood. Try the oyster roll, which combines perfectly crunchy fried oysters, lettuce, lemon, and eel sauce, or the super-fresh, buttery scallop nigiri. 7316 N Lombard St,


The Nemo roll and tuna tataki from Masu

This second-floor downtown sushi spot feels like an urban treehouse, with wood paneling, lounge decor and big windows that overlook the street. Sip on one of the unusual sakés or a Japanese whiskey from their extensive menu, and whatever sushi you order, be sure to pay a few bucks extra for the smooth, slow-burning real wasabi instead of the harsh green-dyed horseradish that's included (the standard at most sushi spots). We like to pair it with the tangy tuna tataki, the king salmon belly nigiri, or one of the ingredient-heavy rolls like the Nemo (shrimp tempura, Dungeness crab, and avocado topped with snapper, salmon, bonito flakes, and green onion). 403 SW 13th Ave,


Avocado toast, eggplant, and asparagus nigiri from Mitate

Sure, fish and rice are the stars of most sushi—but what happens when you remove the fish and the Kewpie mayo and the egg and the gluten? Enter Mitate, a new vegan and gluten-free sushi cart at the CORE food pod. Lead sushi chef and co-owner Nino Ortiz has worked at Bamboo Sushi and the excellent Yoshi’s Sushi cart in Multnomah Village. He and his crew have crafted signature rolls that have all of the flavor and textures of seafood sushi, like the artichoke heart-filled Meadow Roll with garlic mayo for flavor, cucumber and cauliflower for crunch, and apple for sweetness. Also try their artful nigiri, from eggplant miso to “avocado toast” with whiskey barrel-aged black pepper and Arbequina olive oil. Outdoor seating, indoor seating, and to-go available. 3612 SE 82nd Ave,


Assorted sushi from Murata

This tiny jewel of a traditional Japanese restaurant has been open since 1988. Even today, it has an old-school feel, where the sushi chefs wear ties and playfully chat with customers, and smooth jazz wafts through the air. A small sushi bar and a few tables fill the main room, while tatami rooms offer a private, peaceful place to enjoy a meal. We think you can’t go wrong with a chef’s selection of sushi, but we particularly like their melt-in-your mouth fatty smoked salmon nigiri and the house-pickled mackerel nigiri. Dine inside, grab an outdoor table, or take it to go. 200 SW Market St,


Who says you have to spend a lot of money on sushi to leave feeling stuffed? Saburo’s serves up quality sushi in generous portions at a reasonable price. Nigiri that would cost a pretty penny at other shops—salmon belly and fatty tuna—will run you under $6 for two pieces here, and each piece is so big it takes several bites to finish (not ideal, but comes in handy when you’re craving lots of raw fish). Shoutout to the creamy scallop nigiri and the crispy salmon skin salad—and for roll lovers, there are plenty of options, from traditional to deep-fried. Dine-in is temporarily closed, so order ahead online for takeout—we suggest bringing your haul to the nearby Sellwood Riverfront Park for picnicking at one of their tables. 1667 SE Bybee Blvd,


Sushi meets punk rock and a slice of Old Portland at this little Gladstone gem, open for over 30 years. The clipboard waiting list fills with names even on weekday nights, and regulars eagerly greet the sushi chefs from across the room. Forget the soothing, calming music: funky, psychedelic Nigerian tunes floated through the restaurant on my recent visit. A sushi clock ticks away on the wall, a giant fish-shaped kite keeps watch over the restaurant, and Yoko’s mascot, a blowfish with sumo hair and red lipstick, pops up on your teacups and soy sauce dishes. This is a sushi place that doesn’t take itself too seriously, though the not-so-traditional sushi is killer, from the Taka’s Tuna—a deep-fried triangle rice patty topped with avocado and tuna poké that resembles avocado toast—to the pepper-crusted seared albacore nigiri to the salmon shishito roll topped with lemon slices. Open for takeout and indoor dining. 2878 SE Gladstone St, 503-736-9228


In Multnomah Village, second-generation sushi chef and Bamboo Sushi alum Yoshi Ikeda serves creative, refined, uber-fresh and modestly priced sushi out of a cart. Come for stellar nigiri made with thoughtful touches: seared sea scallop with yuzu pepper marmalade, salmon with ginger miso and microgreens, and sweet, fluffy housemade tamago stamped with Yoshi’s name. The rolls deftly balance lots of flavors at once, like the Lime Green Machine, tying together sesame-crusted spinach, cucumbers, roasted peppers, avocado, and microgreens with ginger miso (who says sushi can’t be your source of daily veggies?). Call ahead and order early, since Ikeda doesn’t accept walk-up orders and often sells out. The pod offers indoor and outdoor seating, though this sushi is also ideal for to-go. 3530 SW Multnomah Rd,

Zilla Sake

Originally opened as a sake bar on Alberta, Zilla Sake eventually evolved into one of Portland’s top sushi restaurants with sushi chef and sake expert Kate Koo at the helm. Sip on a sake that’ll open your eyes to what the beverage can be—we particularly like the poetically-named “Cabin in the Snow,” one of Koo’s favorites that’s super-smooth with a lightly fruity finish. Try the super-tender octopus nigiri or the lightly sweet sea eel, and for rolls, order the Tsunami, a bright, zingy combo of yellowtail, ponzu, and green onion on top filled with naturally sweet Dungeness crab and crunchy cucumber. 1806 NE Alberta St,

For further consideration: Nimblefish

Nimblefish is often at the forefront of conversations about Portland’s greatest sushi. The restaurant recently reopened for indoor dining after a long period of takeout-only service, but is temporarily only offering an omakase menu before transitioning back to its full menu. We evaluated all these other sushi spots on an a la carte basis, so we plan to visit Nimblefish once the full menu is offered again so we can evaluate each place based on similar criteria. 1524 SE 20th Ave,

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