Nodoguro offers the finest and most exclusive supermarket sushi that Portland will ever see.
In a little backroom of upscale Hawthorne grocery Pastaworks, Nodoguro's Sunday sashimi dinners sell out within 30 minutes. But for the four remaining nights, you can probably score a reservation for a meal that's far more singular in America: a true Japanese-style formal dinner. In an intimate, 12-seat room that is a soothing elbow of hardwood in dim light, chef Ryan Roadhouse and his wife, Eleni, serve up 10-course, $85 meals that merge the austere and the decadent into the extraordinary, with masterful pacing almost unheard of in such meals.
You're never left nervously nursing your drink. The four-deep sakes and wine pairings are equally impressive, curated by discerning patron Paul Willenberg. A Ten to Chi junmai daiginjo sake will meet notes in lightly singed albacore and an impossibly jammy ginger-dashi fig warmed in oil until it literally explodes. A meal may progress from sesame tofu pepped with a kick of uni, to a refined take on a crab-topped cracker livened with the acidic burst of tomato and the bitter-citrus accent of shiso, to salt-cured sockeye warmed in koji butter. But even if the food's formal, the mood never is.
Editor's note: After the print edition of this guide went to press, it was announced Pastaworks would vacate its Hawthorne location. Nodoguro will remain unchanged until at least January 2016.
Pro tip: You can split the wine pairing ($30-ish) between two people—the meal moves quickly enough it works out beautifully.
GO: 3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd. (inside Pastaworks), nodoguropdx.com. Seatings 6:45 pm Wednesday-Sunday, by reservation only. $$$$.