3810 SE Division St., 841-5527, shigezo-pdx.com.
[NOODLE BAR] Izakayas look and act like Restrantus but they are, taxonomically, Tavernus. That is, the Japanese-style late-night noodle-and-booze shops, which landed in Portland to a reception not seen since the liberation of Vichy France, are more like bars than restaurants. Atmosphere is, therefore, nearly as important as food—something Shigezo understands well. The downtown Shigezo, opened two years ago, was the original American outpost of a large Japanese chain. They’ve shown a knack for empire-building stateside, too, opening a food cart soon after, and the new Yataimura Maru location on Southeast Division Street early this year. Like the original, Yataimura has a broad menu of Japanese fare ranging from very average sushi to far-above average noodles and fried bar food. The room feels, well, like an upscale Japanese restaurant chain: booths are deep, fixtures and wall hangings are stylish, light is flattering and the robo-toilet has a heated seat and a bidet. Edamame are light on seasoning and tempura tends to be too doughy, but chicken katsu curry ($11) and shio abu ramen ($14 for large) are always good. Get a giant mug of Kirin and a sake. This is a tavern, after all.
Ideal meal: Seared mackerel ($10.50), shio abu ramen, too much sake and a 22-ounce beer.
Best deal: Pirikara yakko tofu ($4.50).
Pro tip: The westside Shigezo only has the miraculous Toto Washlet toilet in the women’s room. Men can experience Portland’s best toilet, too, at the Division Street location.
11:30 am-3 pm and 4-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-3 pm and 4-11 pm Friday, 11:30 am-11 pm Saturday, 11:30 am-10 pm Sunday. $$.