In Japan, the traditional kaiseki meal is a strictly ritualized, historically rooted sequence of dishes emphasizing seasonality, locality and presentation. Nodoguro is one of a couple of Portland practitioners of anything resembling that, though chef Ryan Roadhouse is quick to disavow adherence to those traditions. In practice, though, you'll begin your 15-course journey ($125, $45 sake flight) in Nodoguro's dining room that's every bit as serene and sparse as its Japanese counterparts.
Roadhouse and his co-producer and spouse, Elena, personally serve and briefly describe each dish during the roughly two-hour experience, chit-chatting with diners along the way. The emphasis is on seafood, both in the shell and finned. One of the few exceptions, three perfectly medium-rare slices of duck breast, came atop mushroom-studded rice in a gorgeous lidded bowl. I swooned over the corn tofu, the jiggly curd combining with corn cream topped by charred kernels, salmon eggs, edible flowers and herbs. This is a one-of-a-kind, transportive affair as its common sellouts attest.
Pro tip: Half the month, Nodoguro eschews the austerity of kaiseki and offers instead its "supahardcore omakase," a 25-course extravaganza ($195) that includes high-end Japanese beef, sushi and more. Sign up for the Nodoguro newsletter or get online at the tail end of the month to seek out open dates.
GO: 2832 SE Belmont St., nodoguropdx.com, Reservations only Wednesday-Sunday. $$$$.