Put it in your mouth

One irritating thing about good Japanese food in Portland isthat it is hardly ever cheap. While Yuki Japanese Restaurant, whichrecently opened up a second location in the heart of the Northwest23rd district, doesn’t exactly offer a rock-bottom bargain, theyoffer finely made, authentic Japanese food and have plenty ofspecials that keep you from breaking the bank.

While dinner prices at Yuki may be out of reach for the averagestarving college student, the trick is to take advantage of thelunch specials. Sushi is 20 percent off from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. andthe hot lunch specials run $3 to $5 cheaper than their dinnercounterparts.

For hardcore fetishists of raw fish flesh, Yuki’s is tough tobeat. This is some of the best nigiri (fresh fish on rice) in town.In a genre where freshness is considered one of the most importantcomponents, Yuki’s nigiri is like eating right off the fishingboat. Every bite is an explosion of flavor in your mouth. The tuna($4) is soft and flavorful without being oily. The yellowtail ($4)melts in your mouth with all of its buttery goodness, and thesalmon ($3.50) is fresh and flavorful.

Yuki’s rolled sushi is also finely crafted. All of thestandards like the California roll and spicy tuna are well-madetakes on otherwise tired fare. There are also some creativeoriginals offered on the specialty roll section of the menu, like”hang on salmon” (crab salad, green onion, avocado andchili peppers over cooked salmon) or the Kentucky roll (friedchicken, cream cheese, avocado and special sauce). The key here, aswith the nigiri, is the freshness of the ingredients.

The menu at Yuki also features a wide variety of combinationlunch and dinner platters. Served in a traditional Japanese-stylebox tray with divided sections for each dish, colorful garnishesand tempura arranged in one corner to resmble a spraying fountain,the combination platters definitely get points on presentation.

While the tempura (lightly fried vegetables and shrimp) wasdelicate and flavorful and the side of sushi delicious (for all thereasons mentioned above), the main dishes fell a bit flat. Thesalmon teriyaki ($10 lunch, $15 dinner) was a bit overcooked anddry, despite the tasty sauce. The quality just didn’t quite matchthe expectations set by the price. The chicken teriyaki ($9 lunch,$13 dinner) also seemed a bit overdone. The rule at Yuki is, itseems, the less cooked the better.

Although the atmosphere at Yuki’s falls somewhat intothe realm of standard Japanese restaurant clich?s, like woven reedscreens between tables, the green-yellow-purple pastel color schemeprovides a cheerful atmosphere. The staff was very attentive andfriendly, although many were not fluent in English (some confusionarose when we tried to ask for a non-itemized bill). For the mostpart, however, the staff was able to describe the dishes well andthey even offered more salad after I’d quickly devoured the onethat came with my entree.

While Yuki Japanese Restaurant is certainly a quality overquantity kind of place, it offers some of the finest and mostauthentic sushi around. So, if you have a couple extra bucks toburn and are thinking about burning them on a classic Japanesedining experience, Yuki is definitely worth putting in yourmouth.


Yuki Japanese Restaurant
1337 N.E. Broadway
930 N.W. 23rd Ave.