The best sushi shop in the Portland area is one you've probably never heard of. Kurata, a small mom-and-pop operation in Lake Oswego, offers great nigiri, sashimi and maki items, but it also delivers far more than raw fish. Kurata's rolls are well-balanced in flavor and texture. The Kurata No. 1 has some surprising twists and turns: The sushi rice is slightly warm, with a touch of vinegar that complements the spicy tuna and egg. The slight crunch of tobiko (flying-fish roe) gives the roll one last delicious flourish. You'll often find interesting nigiri, too, like kazunoko (herring roe), or madai (Japanese red snapper). There's also udon and soba noodles, and even a salad of fried soft-shelled crab served with greens and a rice wine vinaigrette. This place is a little oasis of calm—though it's pleasant to know that in addition to Zen, you'll also find great sushi. Why else would you drive out to Lake O?
Order this: Takoyaki, fried octopus croquettes, a favorite Osakan snack.
Best deal: Kani nigiri ($4.95), with generous heaps of real, sweet crab. I often ask Kurata-san for this dish as a handroll to finish off a meal.
I'll pass: Inari. The best fried bean-curd pockets still belong to Tanuki.