For years, Nodoguro was the spot for omakase in Portland. The pop-up-turned-restaurant served intense, 25-course tasting menus of monkfish liver and uni rice, A5 wagyu beef sashimi and perfectly plump oysters in a minimalist space on Southeast Belmont. The restaurant regularly captured national attention, so when the restaurant closed mid-pandemic, its loss was felt by many sushi lovers, in Portland and beyond.
Now, Ryan and Elena Roadhouse’s destination restaurant has returned after a multi-year hiatus. As first reported by the Oregonian’s Michael Russell, the new restaurant opened in the Kerns neighborhood on November 10, combining traditional Japanese techniques with creative flourishes, using unusual ingredients sourced from the Pacific Northwest and Japan. Below, we’ve compiled the need-to-know info about Nodoguro, from the backstory to how to secure a reservation.
Who are the Roadhouses?
Chef Ryan Roadhouse is trained in kaiseki cuisine, and held an internship at the two-Michelin-starred Beverly Hills restaurant Urasawa before moving on to places like Mizu Restaurant and Sudachi in Jackson Hole, Seattle’s Rock Box, and Bamboo Sushi and Masu in Portland. The chef was named Portland Monthly’s rising star chef in 2014 and got a shoutout from Questlove in his book Something to Food About: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs. Ryan Roadhouse’s wife Elena handles the restaurant’s front of house and owns a home and body care line called Eleusis, which will reportedly open a concept store in a space in front of the restaurant.
Nodoguro started off as a pop-up in 2014, serving tasting menus with up to 25 courses that tied into Japanese pop culture — from author Haruki Murakami to filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. Soon after, the pop-up took over the space of Evoe before moving to the former Genoa space on Belmont. It was there that the previous iteration of Nodoguro and its casual sibling Tonari shuttered in April 2021 after “failing to come to terms on a lease extension” on the Southeast Belmont space. In May 2022, the restaurant resurfaced, hosting a pop-up series called “Izakaya in the Canaries,” which took flavor inspirations from the Canary Islands, the Spanish archipelago where Ryan Roadhouse presented at a culinary conference in 2021.
What will I have there?
During an approximately two-and-a-half hour dinner service, diners will experience Ryan Roadhouse’s multi-course dinner. The restaurant’s current theme is “Nurturing Your Kokoro”—an Instagram post explains that kokoro is a Japanese expression with no direct English translation, but for Nodoguro, it means unity of mind, heart, and spirit.
On a recent visit by food blogger Pechluck Laskey, the November menu began with an opening round of “snacks” like a “Caesar bite” of chicories with crispy shallots and katsuobushi. From there, a parade of creative dishes including matsutake, custard, and crab; abalone oden; and uni rice are followed by a sequence of sushi, with seafood flown in from Japan. Sweet small bites, the size of which are meant to echo the dinner’s opening courses, close out the meal.
How much does it cost?
Dinners are priced at $250 per person with an optional wine and sake pairing for $50.
How do I get in?
Tickets are booked through December, but folks can join a waitlist to be contacted in the event of any last-minute cancellations.
Where is it?
623 NE 23rd Avenue.