Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yoko's Japanese Restaurant- Surf Shack Sushi

Okay, so when Jen and I decided to start the TableTalkPortland Kingdom we agreed a few things:

1: Eat out at least five times a week
2: Write about it
3: Only write about restaurants we like
5: Always be honest about the food and service

This week I decided that I wanted to toss out rule 3. So, Jen and I had an official TableTalkPortland meeting and we agreed that our readers deserved to read about all of our experiences, including the restaurants we don't like.

So, here goes my first... I didn't like Yoko's. The food was expensive, music was loud, sushi was so/so, and the sushi chefs were low on sushi skills and high on attitude.

What I love about sushi is that it is a Japaneese edible and delicious art form. Sushi chefs must master how to cook the rice correctly (there are actual apprenticeships in it) and prepare the fish in a delicate and artful manner while maximizing the flavors. This is what I was in the mood for on Monday... edible art in a serene Japanese setting.

Well, I gimped into Yoko this Monday with the family (excluding Sis, who was too sick to come- maybe she shouldn't have made so much fun of the gimp--- I call it Karma) and was surprised by the hour wait and the blasting surfer/techno music. We decided to wait over at the C Bar, which is a great bar and very convenient when waiting for Yoko.

A little over an hour later... we finally got into Yoko, I realized the place is incredibly small and modeled after a surf shack and noisier when you got inside. I wonder who thought it was a great idea to pair blasting music and sushi.

As we sat down, Anella said we had to try the Sushi Tacos, which I almost choked on my Saki... Mexican Japanese Sushi?? Out came the "tacos," which were rice balls deep fried and topped with sliced avocado and spicy tuna. When I bit into the taco, it felt like I might have broken a tooth on the crispy rice and I was greeted with smooth avocado, strong sesame flavor and mushy tuna and that was it! There was no spice on the spicy tuna except for sesame. At that point I made a mental note to never try Mexican Japanese Sushi again and to go to the dentist tomorrow to ensure I didn't break a tooth.
We decided that we would order tempura vegetables, two sahsimi platters, unagi (fresh water eel), octopus salad, miso soup, rainbow roll, soft shell crab roll, and inari sushi. I have to say that the tempura vegetables were perfectly fried in a nice light batter. I was getting really excited about the tempura, but Mom gave me a weird look and said,"how hard is it to fry a vegetable?" Good point Mom!
Then out came the "sashimi" platters, which is by definition THINLY SLICED RAW fish... but half of the plate was COOKED?? It had COOKED octopus, SEARED tuna, THICK raw tuna, and the smallest two pieces of salmon I have ever seen. I will say that the raw tuna was very fresh, but the rest was very forgettable.
Well after that, I was definitely still feeling a need for more sushi, so I was looking forward to the sushi rolls and the unagi. I typically love rainbow roll, because you get to try so many of the great fishes all in one roll. This one tasted fresh, but it was cut so sloppy that Mom, Ely, and I were tearing it apart like it was still a whole fish (a magic rainbow fish) just pulled from the ocean. The entire roll was demolished by the time the three of us managed to secure a piece on our chop sticks. The rest of the rolls were good but not great.

We then decided we had to try one of their famous Mochi ice cream balls, which is rice pounded into a paste and then folded over ice cream. After ordering a green tea, strawberry, and mango Mochi I was pondering what draws people to this place. I decided that maybe people like eating raw fish when they are sitting in a surf shack, because it feels like you are at the ocean and theoretically you are closer to your fresh fish. I then decided to capture the image below, because it looked like something you would see at a fresh seafood shack at the beach... OMG you would have thought I committed a crime. The sushi chef was appalled and just sat there shaking his head at me. Please note I would never take a picture across the room in a quiet and quaint dining room, but this is quite the opposite. I sort of felt like picking up one of the fried rice balls and hurling it towards him, but I was worried it would wound him or someone!

After my visual reprimand from the chef, our dessert arrived. You could tell that the strawberry and mango mochi had been in the freezer a little too long, because the mochi is supposed to be soft and chewy but it was completely dried out... the green tea one tasted fresh and creamy with a hint of green tea flavoring.

Well, please note that TabeTalkPortland has nothing against surf shack sushi ... we just have something against expensive dining experiences that leave us feeling cheated and force us to go to the dentist.

Yoko's Japanese Restaurant* 2878 SE Gladstone St* (503) 736-9228 * No Reservations

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