Sunday, March 16, 2008

Syun=Amazing Sushi (Hillsboro!)

It takes a lot to get me all the way out to Hillsboro. It takes a lot just to get this fierce urbanite to cross 28th in either direction, actually, so the trek out to Syun Japanese Restaurant and Sake Club was initially agonizing. Once there, I had to admit that downtown Hillsboro has a certain bygone-era charm, and Syun--housed in an old brick building on a quiet side street, was well worth losing my prize right-in-front-of-my-NW-apartment-building parking spot.

Stepping down into the bustling restaurant, I watched two energetic chefs deftly slice and plate gleaming sashimi, then I ogled the giant bottles of sake lining the walls and took in the considerable collection of interesting knick knacks everywhere. We ordered the Taiheikai Nigori Namakaze Genshu ($7 small/$10 large)--a delicious cold unpasteurized sake that was both sweet and spicy and had a lovely finish, while we pored over the menu, which included an ample selection of salads, cold and hot dishes, sashimi, nigiri, rolls, soups, desserts, and of course, sake (and beer).

My sis was in the mood for miso, so we both ordered the miso soup with crab. I'm used to the regular old bowls of murky miso with a little bit of greenery and some tofu cubes floating around in it, so I was startled when the server gently placed two black lacquered bowls of soup in front of us, and I lifted the lid to see a massive king crab haunch resting in my steaming bowl of miso soup. We lifted it out gingerly and poked the slippery, succulent meat out with our chopsticks, which was fun, then ate the huge chunks of crab flesh with our fingers. The soup was spiked with an herb very closely resembling cilantro, but with a stronger, almost pine-like flavor. I forgot to ask what it was, maybe someone knows and can comment. The soup was fantastic, well worth the $5 price tag, which we initially thought was rather pricey for a small bowl of miso, until we discovered that half of Sebastian was floating around in the bowl.

Next we had the "regular" sashimi platter, a plate of artfully arranged slabs of exquisitely fresh fish that included perfect slices of tender tuna, coral-pink salmon, sea bream, mackerel, octopus, and sliced scallops arranged in the shape of a flower and topped with bright orange roe. We also ordered the Rainbow Roll, a jewel-icious compilation of crab, amberjack, salmon, avocado, shrimp, and tuna ($10.50 for 8 pc), which was beautifully executed and not overdone like some Rainbow Rolls that show up at the table in cinnamon bun sized slices. We also had the Spicy Tuna roll, tuna mixed with homemade spicy sauce ($5.50 for 6 pc). The rolls were delicious, probably the best I've had in Portland. They were very reasonably priced as well, ranging from $4.50 to $12.50.

Dessert was an easy choice--tempura fried ice cream. Rock hard balls of green tea ice cream wearing coats of thick fried dough. This was the only dish we saw in the whole restaurant that wasn't supermodel beautiful--unless you find the 'beignets gone bad' look visually appealing. I felt it a testament to the old adage 'Looks aren't everything' that Michelle, who had pledged to eat one solitary bite of dessert, ate her whole lumpy fried ice cream ball and some of mine too. Sheesh.

"Mesohappy," Michelle sighed as we left. Cheesy, but too true. Syun is positively fantastic, has to be some of the finest sushi in Portland, and even if you have the best parking spot in your neighborhood, I suggest you sacrifice it to make the pilgrimage. Or even better, take the MAX, it stops right in downtown Hillsboro and you can walk a few blocks to get your fill of crab miso and sashimi and sake and ugly-but-has-tons-of-personality fried ice cream.

Syun Japanese Restaurant and Sake Club * 209 NW Lincoln St (Hillsboro!) * 503.640.3131 * yes reservations, yes worth losing your parking spot for

1 comment:

  1. Love the Syun!!! Have you tried the Murata? Just as good, w/o the drive. : ) Gloria