Restaurant Guide 2013: Hokusei

4246 SE Belmont St., 971-279-2161,

[SHISO FINERY] Don't let its unlikely location, next door to the bastardized Teppanyaki tables of Slappy Cakes, fool you into thinking you're getting sushi from the provinces. In a tastefully simple room with hardwood panels patterned as flowing fish, the sushi selection is adventurous to the point of showmanship. Case in point: There were three different types of grunt fish on the menu last time we visited. Acclaimed chef Kaoru Ishii departed this July for Yama Sushi, but in recent visits the omakase under sushi veteran Lance Dillard offered accents both wide-ranging and subtle for each day's catch, with no need for any of your own misguided, soy-happy meddling. "There's shiso on the sushi!" exclaimed a dining companion upon first taste of sashimi. Damn straight there is. There may also be yuzu, miso or herbs you can't quite place. The kitchen is likewise a farm for delights, from carpaccio accented with serrano and cilantro to a far-out, Far East surf and turf featuring uni and steak tartare. On the last visit, the server steered us to the last available serving of saba misoni, mackerel marinated for 10 hours in hearty hatcho miso until it reaches tender submissiveness. It is best for you, too, to submit to the whims of server and chef: As the French and Italians might tell you from a century of experience, surrender is sweet release.

Ideal Meal: Either spring for the full omakase or split a $30 omakase sashimi and augment it with saba misoni, tsukemono and daily specials.

Best deal: A nine-piece value plate of sashimi goes for $25, but you'll always fare best with the omakase.

Pro Tip: Hokusei offers taster trays of Japanese whiskeys. You'll want these.

5-10 pm Wednesday-Monday. $$-$$$.


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