$ Cheap (entrees less than $10)
$$ Average (entrees $10-$18)
$$$ Expensive (entrees $19-$25)
$$$$ Half a paycheck (entrees $26 and up)
Ratings are based on a four-star scale
**** Excellent food, creative items and top notch service.
*** Good food, good value and nothing below reasonable expectations.
** Two stars are given to restaurants that are adequate but need improvement. You wouldn’t go out of your way to eat there again unless changes in quality and menu were made.
* One star is reserved for places that you would not recommend under almost any circumstances.
5 Fusion and Sushi Bar
1821 NW Wall St., Bend
Fusion is a gastronomical moniker that gives a restaurant complete spice freedom. Sometimes, this translates into a confused menu with a lost soul. Not so at 5 Fusion. The restaurant’s roots are clearly set in the Japanese sushi tradition, but the pan-Asian flavors of their more innovative dishes complement any classic nigiri (sample four types of tuna with the tuna flight, $19). On the non-raw menu, flaky nori-macadamia crusted ono, ($21) and Korean-style pork bi bim bop ($19) are good options. 5 Fusion is a singular refutation to those who say that sushi chefs can’t cook. Executive chef Joe Kim inspects every fish delivery before splitting his time between the kitchen and the sushi bar. Put your dining destiny in Kim’s hands, and sit at the sushi bar for the maritime taste of omakase (multiple courses of the chef’s choice, prices vary). For a roll with personality, get the Steve McQueen roll ($16). Hamachi, crab, maguro, avocado, cream cheese, tempura and rice are topped with sweet chili coconut sauce and macadamia nuts—the result is a sweetly subtle crunch and a savory finish. Pair this with a Smiling Buddha cocktail ($8), a cucumber delight which includes Oregon-made sake, Momokawa. The IPA roll ($15) pays homage to 5 Fusion’s downtown Bend locale with beer-brined and hop-smoked salmon atop cream cheese, asparagus, tamago and avocado curled inside rice, and drizzled with an IPA reduction. Service is outstanding—and the prices reflect that—but the food is immaculate. The modern loft décor and impressive large-scale water feature suspended from the ceiling brings an ocean metaphor to you in an overall great dining experience.
209 NE Lincoln Street, Hillsboro
Ring of Fire. A work of art or an exquisite dish? It’s both at Syun Izakaya. If presentation ranks high on your ballot and scrumptious sushi is your thing, Syun Izakaya will become a weekly siren for you. I recently asked an acclaimed local chef where to find the best sushi. His answer? Hillsboro. Located in an historic library building in quaint downtown Hillsboro, Syun Izakaya has the best sushi this side of Okinawa. The entire staff greets you upon entry as if welcoming you to their home. Immediately you are served a delicious miso soup and salad. Choices are plentiful and include the typical sushi rolls, but to experience why this is chef-recommended, flip the menu over to the specialty sushi roll page ($15 each). There your quest for superior sushi ends. The mango tango roll with mango, seared bay scallops, cream cheese and avocado is a must. The Ring of Fire with wild sockeye salmon, albacore, and avocado is almost too beautiful to eat, and the addition of seared yellowfin tuna, jalapeño and yuzu pepper vinegar on the outside will make you want to order a second roll before the first is gone. For scallop lovers, try the prosciutto-wrapped scallop. Simply perfection. The Shirataki Jozen Mizunogotoshi Sake (otherwise know as ‘Heavenly Water’) is a dry and balanced accompaniment to all noted dishes ($7). For a happy ending to your meal, deep-fried yams topped with whipped cream and black sesame are heavenly. Local Hillsboro patrons may be disappointed that their secret is out, and it is. Syun Izakaya is the consummate choice for divine sushi.