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11 Incredible Izakayas in Portland and Beyond

Where to find Japanese pubs across the city

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Afuri
| Dina Avila/EPDX

Evolved from 18th century sake shops, izakayas are casual taverns that are one part British gastropub, one part Spanish tapas bar, yet remain firmly Japanese. Traditionally, most izakayas specialize in small, shareable plates of fried, salty, or savory snacks that go with boozy drinks. In the U.S., though, the definition is a little looser and might not even focus on Japanese food. To wit: The recent rebirth of Ping, the long-closed “Thai izakaya.”

Izakayas are practically synonymous with drinking and socializing, which is difficult to translate to the at-home experience, but now that takeout cocktails are legal it might be a little easier. And truly, is there ever a situation in which karaage or agedashi tofu isn’t a knockout choice? Below, we’ve compiled a map of izakayas across the greater Portland area that are packaging up boxes of takoyaki, gyoza, and even bottles of sake. Looking for straight-up sushi spots? There’s a separate map for those. Ramen-focused restaurants also have their own guide. Maps are not ranked; they’re organized geographically.

A number of Portland restaurants have resumed outdoor dine-in service. The level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for onsite dining, as there are still safety concerns: for updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID update page. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Syun Izakaya

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With a menu of 60-plus small plates and sushi rolls as well as one of the largest selections of sake in the Pacific Northwest (which sadly, isn’t being offered to-go), the much-lauded Syun is well worth a suburban field trip. Along with izakaya classics, there’s a board full of daily specials like smoked, grilled octopus or Copper River salmon nigiri. The restaurant is open for takeout.

Bowl with rice and raw seafood on top
Syun’s donburi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya

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Find a handful of standard izakaya snacks along with signature ramen bowls at Kizuki, the Portland outlet of this Tokyo-based franchise. Lighter shio and shoyu broths are available, but the hearty garlic tonkotsu version is deliciously rich and porky with a garnish of fried garlic for good measure. The fried chicken a.k.a. karaage is also a must-try, available a la carte with spicy mayo or served on a bed of lettuce as a salad. Takeout and delivery are available.

White dish with fried chicken and a lemon wedge
Kizuki’s karaage
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Another ramen hotspot in Beaverton, Yuzu quietly houses a treasure trove of izakaya dishes (though the menu is more abbreviated than it once was). Sure, Yuzu serves traditional izakaya fare like pan-fried gyoza and agedashi tofu, but the menu really stands out thanks to dishes like “Mr. Nakano’s Fried Sausage,” breaded and fried sausages served like tonkatsu, as well as its wafu Japanese-style caesar salad with parmesan, fried gobo, and creamy miso dressing. Takeout is available.

Bowl of ramen and a red spoon
Yuzu ramen
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Bamboo Sushi

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Famous for its sushi, this sustainable-minded chain is also well-versed in izakaya offerings. Even though the stellar happy hour is on pause, it’s possible to recreate the experience at home with an order of fried cauliflower, served with a spicy black bean sauce and toasted cashews, and a signature Green Machine roll, complete with tempura green beans and cilantro sweet chili aioli — complete the experience with a sake bomb gift box that comes with chopsticks. There are three other Bamboos a little further afield, too. Delivery and takeout are available.

Sushi, karaage, and edamame
Sushi, karaage, and edamame
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Shigezo

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Opened in 2010, downtown Portland’s go-to izakaya has something for everyone. The thick house-made noodles are great in a classic shoyu ramen, as well as brothless versions like the kama-tama ramen tossed in onion oil and soy sauce seasoned with bonito. For something lesser-seen in Portland, try the oden, a traditional winter dish of things like daikon, hard-boiled eggs, konnyaku, and fish cakes, long-simmered in a dashi broth and served with mustard. Takeout and delivery, including sake and Japanese beer, are available.

Izakaya Kichinto

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One of Shigezo’s Portland-based sister restaurants, Izakaya Kichinto serves up standards like gyoza and sushi, but don’t overlook the deep-fried takoyaki, Japanese curry, or the house-made soba, served either hot or cold. A selection of sake and cocktails, using ingredients like Midori and Calpico, are also available to-go. Delivery and takeout are available. 

Mirakutei Sushi & Ramen

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Located on the ground floor of a modern building on lower Burnside, Mirakutei has been serving sushi, ramen, and tidbits like kushiyaki, grilled steak, chicken, and salmon skewers, for close to a decade. Anyone wanting to branch out from the usual suspects should try the uni sandwiched between sliced scallops and topped with colorful masago. Takeout and delivery, including bottles of sake and wine, are available.

This Tokyo-based chain exemplifies the difference between Japan and the U.S. In Tokyo, Afuri is a tiny counter-seating joint, specializing in one thing: ramen. Southeast Portland’s outpost is a spacious affair with a full bar and wide-ranging menu, featuring chicken or vegetable skewers cooked by flames on the genshiyaki, an old-school Japanese grill. First-timers might want to try the signature yuzu ramen, but the menu also features creative dishes like kemuri jagaimo, smoked potatoes served with a cured Jidori egg, maitake mushrooms, pickled ramps, and sudachi aioli. Delivery and takeout are available.

bowl of ramen with half a soft-boiled egg on top
Afuri ramen
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Yama Sushi & Izakaya

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Clinton’s Yama is the place for a quality sushi selection and an expansive menu filled with izakaya-style dishes, including grilled yellowtail collar, steamed monkfish liver, and miso-marinated black cod. For a fun twist on jalapeño poppers, try the stuffed jalapeño tempura, which is filled with crab salad, spicy tuna, and cream cheese, served with sweet soy sauce. Yama offers takeout and delivery.

bowl of rice and sashimi
Yama sashimi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Formerly known as Yakuza Lounge, this non-traditional izakaya moved into the former Nonna space and rebranded as a takeout and delivery-only ghost kitchen this fall. The signature Yakuza burger, topped with chevre and truffled shoestring fries, is still on the menu (and includes a Beyond Burger option), as well as a standard range of sushi rolls, nigiri, karaage, and ramen.

Takahashi

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Takahashi has been an outer Southeast Japanese stalwart since 1985. While the homey restaurant features a handsome wooden sushi bar, there’s also a sprawling menu that includes Japanese curry, yakitori, and a vast selection of tempura—softshell crab, oyster mushrooms, string beans, and rib-eye are just a few of the items waiting to be battered, deep-fried, and served with ponzu. The restaurant is doing takeout and delivery.

A plate of tempura with ponzu dipping sauce
Tempura at Takahashi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Syun Izakaya

Bowl with rice and raw seafood on top
Syun’s donburi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

With a menu of 60-plus small plates and sushi rolls as well as one of the largest selections of sake in the Pacific Northwest (which sadly, isn’t being offered to-go), the much-lauded Syun is well worth a suburban field trip. Along with izakaya classics, there’s a board full of daily specials like smoked, grilled octopus or Copper River salmon nigiri. The restaurant is open for takeout.

Bowl with rice and raw seafood on top
Syun’s donburi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya

White dish with fried chicken and a lemon wedge
Kizuki’s karaage
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Find a handful of standard izakaya snacks along with signature ramen bowls at Kizuki, the Portland outlet of this Tokyo-based franchise. Lighter shio and shoyu broths are available, but the hearty garlic tonkotsu version is deliciously rich and porky with a garnish of fried garlic for good measure. The fried chicken a.k.a. karaage is also a must-try, available a la carte with spicy mayo or served on a bed of lettuce as a salad. Takeout and delivery are available.

White dish with fried chicken and a lemon wedge
Kizuki’s karaage
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Yuzu

Bowl of ramen and a red spoon
Yuzu ramen
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Another ramen hotspot in Beaverton, Yuzu quietly houses a treasure trove of izakaya dishes (though the menu is more abbreviated than it once was). Sure, Yuzu serves traditional izakaya fare like pan-fried gyoza and agedashi tofu, but the menu really stands out thanks to dishes like “Mr. Nakano’s Fried Sausage,” breaded and fried sausages served like tonkatsu, as well as its wafu Japanese-style caesar salad with parmesan, fried gobo, and creamy miso dressing. Takeout is available.

Bowl of ramen and a red spoon
Yuzu ramen
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Bamboo Sushi

Sushi, karaage, and edamame
Sushi, karaage, and edamame
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Famous for its sushi, this sustainable-minded chain is also well-versed in izakaya offerings. Even though the stellar happy hour is on pause, it’s possible to recreate the experience at home with an order of fried cauliflower, served with a spicy black bean sauce and toasted cashews, and a signature Green Machine roll, complete with tempura green beans and cilantro sweet chili aioli — complete the experience with a sake bomb gift box that comes with chopsticks. There are three other Bamboos a little further afield, too. Delivery and takeout are available.

Sushi, karaage, and edamame
Sushi, karaage, and edamame
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Shigezo

Opened in 2010, downtown Portland’s go-to izakaya has something for everyone. The thick house-made noodles are great in a classic shoyu ramen, as well as brothless versions like the kama-tama ramen tossed in onion oil and soy sauce seasoned with bonito. For something lesser-seen in Portland, try the oden, a traditional winter dish of things like daikon, hard-boiled eggs, konnyaku, and fish cakes, long-simmered in a dashi broth and served with mustard. Takeout and delivery, including sake and Japanese beer, are available.

Izakaya Kichinto

One of Shigezo’s Portland-based sister restaurants, Izakaya Kichinto serves up standards like gyoza and sushi, but don’t overlook the deep-fried takoyaki, Japanese curry, or the house-made soba, served either hot or cold. A selection of sake and cocktails, using ingredients like Midori and Calpico, are also available to-go. Delivery and takeout are available. 

Mirakutei Sushi & Ramen

Located on the ground floor of a modern building on lower Burnside, Mirakutei has been serving sushi, ramen, and tidbits like kushiyaki, grilled steak, chicken, and salmon skewers, for close to a decade. Anyone wanting to branch out from the usual suspects should try the uni sandwiched between sliced scallops and topped with colorful masago. Takeout and delivery, including bottles of sake and wine, are available.

Afuri

bowl of ramen with half a soft-boiled egg on top
Afuri ramen
Krista Garcia/EPDX

This Tokyo-based chain exemplifies the difference between Japan and the U.S. In Tokyo, Afuri is a tiny counter-seating joint, specializing in one thing: ramen. Southeast Portland’s outpost is a spacious affair with a full bar and wide-ranging menu, featuring chicken or vegetable skewers cooked by flames on the genshiyaki, an old-school Japanese grill. First-timers might want to try the signature yuzu ramen, but the menu also features creative dishes like kemuri jagaimo, smoked potatoes served with a cured Jidori egg, maitake mushrooms, pickled ramps, and sudachi aioli. Delivery and takeout are available.

bowl of ramen with half a soft-boiled egg on top
Afuri ramen
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Yama Sushi & Izakaya

bowl of rice and sashimi
Yama sashimi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Clinton’s Yama is the place for a quality sushi selection and an expansive menu filled with izakaya-style dishes, including grilled yellowtail collar, steamed monkfish liver, and miso-marinated black cod. For a fun twist on jalapeño poppers, try the stuffed jalapeño tempura, which is filled with crab salad, spicy tuna, and cream cheese, served with sweet soy sauce. Yama offers takeout and delivery.

bowl of rice and sashimi
Yama sashimi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Yakuza

Formerly known as Yakuza Lounge, this non-traditional izakaya moved into the former Nonna space and rebranded as a takeout and delivery-only ghost kitchen this fall. The signature Yakuza burger, topped with chevre and truffled shoestring fries, is still on the menu (and includes a Beyond Burger option), as well as a standard range of sushi rolls, nigiri, karaage, and ramen.

Takahashi

A plate of tempura with ponzu dipping sauce
Tempura at Takahashi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

Takahashi has been an outer Southeast Japanese stalwart since 1985. While the homey restaurant features a handsome wooden sushi bar, there’s also a sprawling menu that includes Japanese curry, yakitori, and a vast selection of tempura—softshell crab, oyster mushrooms, string beans, and rib-eye are just a few of the items waiting to be battered, deep-fried, and served with ponzu. The restaurant is doing takeout and delivery.

A plate of tempura with ponzu dipping sauce
Tempura at Takahashi
Krista Garcia/EPDX

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