High grade fish that tasted fresh with excellent good texture and aroma.
All the staples are here, including Spanish Mackrel and Stripped Bass, don’t expect exotics like Monk Fish Liver or Raw Octopus, however.
Clean, but often loud and packed. Fantastic mural and some framed in the back are highlights of an otherwise kitschy interior.
Thick, oversized cuts of fish and jumbo rolls for prices you’d expect to pay for the regular sized portions.
The quality and value you get at Saburo’s makes it a must-try for any sushi fan in Portland.
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August 19th, 2012 | Dinner | Sellwood
When you arrive and locate Saburo’s Sushi House, it can appear downright uninviting. The lines frequently sprawl around to it’s too-small parking lot and waiting times can be as high as 45 minutes, sometimes even longer when nearby Reed College is full of students during the school year. If you find the wait to be a little longer than expected, the wine bar next door or the Starbucks just up the street is a good way to kill some of the time.
The service staff here are kind and prompt, but there are some easy to abide by rules that help turn over tables quickly and reduce wait times. Just make sure you are paying with no more than two cards and make sure your entire party is available for seating when they call your name. Ordering is done via dry erase marker and laminated menu, even at the bar, so unfortunately bar-style ordering is not available here.
The first thing you’ll notice is the very generous cuts of fish, not just in thickness but in overall size. Because of this we recommend ordering a bit less than you usually do, or you’ll have an entire second meal to take home. As an appetizer Wes ordered deep fried baby octopus which were moist and delicious, as well as a cucumber and nori salad. All the fish ordered was fresh and cut well. The Poke tuna is another fantastic non-sushi appetizer, very fresh red fin tuna with the perfect amount of sesame oil accented by sharp, ripe scallions and white onions. Katie loved the sauce so much that she ate the lettuce bed! Just make sure to cleanse with gari if you are wanting to take in the rest of the fish.
The yellow tail, mackerel, salmon, sweet shrimp, and tobiko + quail egg all shined here. Texture and aroma were exactly as you’d expect from these sushi staples. The uni here must only come in once or twice a week because we’ve had only average uni here, but by no means bad, it just seems to lack the firmness you want to look for in that particular dish.
A huge stand-out here (and Katie’s absolute favorite at Saburo’s) is the creamy scallops. They are very rich and creamy and made with large whole bay scallops and accented with Tobiko. The sheer serving size makes them impossible to eat without using your hands or making a mess, but they are definitely worth it. Likewise, the house “Big O Roll” is a fantastic very-non-traditional deep fried roll that includes cream cheese and spicy tuna, and tastes great with the Ponzu that accompanies it.
The only trouble dish we encountered was the Spider Roll. In previous visits they were very tasty, but during our review visit the soft shell crab was over-cooked and had a slight bitter burnt taste. I think it was just bad luck, but the color was fairly obvious it was overcooked, so we were slightly disappointed. Plating here is efficient and uninspired, but this isn’t the type of place you’d even give plating a second thought.
The atmosphere is kitschy and unimportant. Expect a crowded, loud atmosphere with a few images on the wall. One highlight however, in the back dining area, is a huge mural which features a sumo wrestler taking out a giant tuna among many scenes Japanese art history.
Overall, Saburo’s is a very impressive Americanized sushi house that has become a staple for Portland sushi fans over the last few years. We definitely recommend making it here and toughing out the wait, you’ll be glad you did.
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