Good sushi and authentic Japanese food can be hard to find among the many ethnic-cuisine restaurants scattered in cities. Portland, Oregon, is no exception; but luckily we stumbled upon one of the best. Yataimura Maru has three locations in Portland; and it was clear to see why it is expanding. Starting as just one local shop, it is now bringing sushi and ramen masterpieces all over the city.
We enjoyed the cheapest high quality sushi we’ve ever had and a yummy bowl of ramen — all during “happy hour,” an evening special on weekdays and almost all day on Saturdays. Hand rolls for $3.50 and ramen for $5.00 was something we couldn’t pass up! We took full advantage, ordering a spicy scallop and “Oregon” hand rolls as well as a “Frenchie” specialty roll, a bowl of Tokyo ramen, and Seafood donburi.
The spicy scallop was much more than just your average fish roll with spicy mayo. There were avocado, shichimi, cucumber, and sesame seeds all added to the raw scallops to make for a flavorful roll with a kick. The Oregon roll was different from any roll we’ve encountered before, as it was made from fresh albacore, crab salad, kaiware, cucumber and… sliced lemon. Citrus in sushi was a new experience for us, but definitely worth a try. While unexpectedly strong at first, the lemon taste was mellow throughout the roll after the first bite. We were even more impressed by the specialty roll. Spicy tuna, tempura shallot, avocado bundled up and topped with seared salmon, eel sauce and spicy mayo; while it may seem like there’s a lot going on in this 8-piece roll, the taste was dominated by the savory seared salmon on top. Flame-charred perfectly and leaving a lingering smokey aroma in your mouth after each bite; this roll was a winner.
Chilled donburi was better referred to as Seafood Poke Don, as it mimicked the recently popular Poke bowl dishes. Rice based and topped with raw tuna, shrimp and various market sashimi and avocado, this dish was packed with fresh ingredients. The rice was cooked marvelously, being just sticky enough to enjoy with the use of chopsticks, but not too overdone to take away from flavor. The generous portion of avocado was a great compliment to each diced piece of sashimi and the sauce base underneath was fantastic.
As for a hot meal, we highly recommend any of the ramen dishes. So far, our favorite has been the Tokyo; consisting of pork, mushrooms, onions, and homemade noodles. These slightly tougher noodles were just what we were looking for in the chicken and vegetable broth base: rich in flavor and an ideal amount for a lunch bowl. Enjoyed with a smooth cup of brown rice tea, the warmth from this meal went right to our souls, leaving us satisfied and smiling.
For a no-forks, no-nonsense Japanese cuisine experience, Maru will be a pit stop to remember. Stop by during happy hour and enjoy the affordable selection of east-Asian dishes and get your noodle fix.