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What's the deal with teriyaki joints in Portland?

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I was there for a week recently, and I saw a jillion of them (though I didn't try any ... too many other great choices!). That got me to thinking of an article I swear I saw sometime in the past year about the spread of teriyaki in Portland, but I have searched the Internet and Lexis-Nexis to no avail.

I also noticed a lot of Hawaiian restaurants there ... I'm a former resident of Hawaii, and enjoy the quirks of low-brow Hawaiian cuisine (I'm not talking Roy Yamaguchi here) as much as anyone -- especially for nostalgia's sake -- but a lot of it is pretty dreadful.

Since I will be returning to Portland, here are my questions:

--Are there any outstanding teriyaki restaurants?

--Any decent Hawaiian restaurants?

--Anyone know of the article I'm thinking of? Or, if not, do you know why teriyaki joints are so widespread in Portland, of all places?

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  1. You may be thinking of a fairly recent article in the NY Times about Seattle's teriyaki roots (for a much more detailed and interesting version see the one from a few years ago in the Seattle Weekly). Apologize in advance if that's not what you were thinking about.

    1. seat of my pants answer: Portland is on the pacific rim and extremely white. That is to say, the masses here are not adventurous but want to seem like they are. To them, Teri-yaki is pushing the boundaries. Sad, huh? Ditto for Hawaiian of course.

      1. Ah, yes! It was Seattle and the NY Times. I'm confusing my Northwest food-centric cities.

        And yes, I guess the teriyaki prevalence is Pacific Rim culture, Japanese influence and all that ... but I wonder if Seattle was first to jump on the teriyaki bandwagon or Portland.

        Fortunately, Portland has a lot more going for it than teriyaki.

        1 Reply
        1. re: melissa511

          It isn't just Portland and Seattle. We've had several Teriyaki joints down here in the Rogue Valley for years.
          We have had a branch of Noho's forever, but we have recently had an explosion of Hawaiian
          places for reasons I'm not quite sure of. Native Hawaiians who have moved here at some point.
          have all decided to share. :)

        2. I've never been, but I think Ate Oh Ate is worth a mention. It was recently opened by the owners of Laurelhurst Market.

          As for teriyaki, I sadly can't seem to find anything good besides my old high school lunch spot in the suburbs. You'd be much better off seeking out an izakaya-inspired restaurant like Biwa.

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          Biwa
          215 SE 9th Ave Ste 102, Portland, OR 97214

          Laurelhurst Market
          3155 East Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97232

          Ate Oh Ate
          2454 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97232