Photography by Stuart Mullenberg
Quietly, while we all hunted for our next ramen fix, Ryan Roadhouse perfected Portland’s best Japanese food at Nodoguro, a weekly pop-up turned fine-dining experience in the former Genoa space on SE Belmont. In ever-changing kappo-style feasts, you might meet Oregon tuna sashimi inside a chic pull-top can, or the world’s teeniest cucumber, blossom included. Bubbling beneath each meal is the hidden complexity (and ego-free calm) of Roadhouse’s cuisine. He’s well armed with modernist tricks but never lets on—even on the plate. That simple mackerel salad you just inhaled? The fish was cured, air-dried, expertly crisped, spritzed with dashi-soy vapors, then dressed in curry vinegar crafted days before from the clarified liquid of a spiced stew. Last year, Nodoguro added another undeniable draw: “Hardcore Omakase” sushi nights twice weekly. Nodoguro was Portland Monthly's 2015 Restaurant of the Year.