Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders just aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food luminaries to share their under-the-radar recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Chef David Padberg is a veteran of some of Portland's top restaurants, from Wildwood to Park Kitchen, and has also spent time in traditional Japanese kitchens. Now at the helm of Raven & Rose, Padberg has created a menu that reflects both the history of the 1883 Ladd Carriage House as well as the traditions of rustic cuisine. Padberg's broad experience is coupled with broad tastes, and he's willing to venture out to Beaverton to sate his cravings... but not, it should be noted, for bowls of ramen.
I don't make it out to Beaverton every day, but when I go to meet friends or go shopping at Uwajimaya, I like to drop in at Yuzu for dinner. Like many places in Tokyo, this is a small shop run by a young Japanese husband and wife team. Also like many places in Tokyo, it's located in an unassuming Beaverton strip mall, practically invisible, with no lights or signage to speak of.
Their menu is loaded with small, tasty bites of mostly traditional izakaya fare, from gyoza and soba, to tempura and tofu. Like a lot of small plate restaurants, the prices are manageable, from $5 to $15 per plate, ranging from pickles to ramen. Their ramen has a big following, but honestly, I rarely order ramen and haven't tasted it yet.
They don't serve sushi, but they do offer a pretty wide selection of tasty meats and fish, either grilled or fried, often things you don't see in America. Karei kara age is fried flatfish, and sanma shio yaki is a grilled oily fish like mackerel. They also serve nice grilled beef dishes like wafu steak and gyu negima, thinly sliced beef wrapped around scallions and sprinkled with togarashi. They have lots of other classics, eggplant with bonito flakes and braised pork kakuni. These dishes are delicious with beer and sake, which is what I like to drink at this kind of place, and the range of flavors and textures on small dishes is really how I like to eat. A glass of watari bune sake and a piece of kasu or miso cured black cod is about as umami as it gets.
This is one of my favorite places to eat that's not in my neighborhood. I don't go there all the time, but it's a gem when I'm there.
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Image of Yuzu courtesy Kala V. via Yelp