Nodoguro, the “by-appointment-only” Japanese restaurant that closed its original Southeast Portland location during the pandemic, has found a new home, chef Ryan Roadhouse tells The Oregonian.
The new Nodoguro will open on Thursday in a former events space tucked behind an upcoming Kerns neighborhood retail outlet for Eleusis, wife Elena Roadhouse’s hypoallergenic home and body care line. Dinner reservations are booked through December.
Pre-pandemic, Ryan Roadhouse’s creative approach to Japanese cuisine and impressive sushi technique had elevated Nodugoro from a roving pop-up to one of Portland’s best restaurants, and one of the best Japanese restaurants in America. But after a year of pivots — including selling high-end bento boxes and chirashi bowls to-go — the Roadhouses decided to walk away from the restaurant and its just-opened sister, Tonari, in early 2021.
“We faced the thing that was one of our ultimate fears, in terms of how the restaurant functions, and it just kept getting worse and weirder,” Roadhouse said. “But there’s always a silver lining. When you have to disrupt, it’s like the gift of time. For us, it meant more time to spend with our kids who were in the transition of middle school, when a lot of people might be losing a connection with their kids. For me, I felt even more connected. I’ll forever be thankful for that.”
Last summer, the Roadhouses took over a former Northeast Portland Italian restaurant with a short-lived pop-up, Izakaya in the Canaries, inspired by a Spanish culinary conference they attended last year. Despite the two-year hiatus, the pop-up showed no signs of rust, with familiar dishes including dashi-infused sungold tomatoes, rice bowls draped with luminous salmon roe and impeccably sourced sashimi.
At the new restaurant, Ryan Roadhouse plans to restructure the menu, splitting the Hassun course — a mid-meal crescendo of intricate, seasonal bites — into an opening round of snacks, echoed by similarly sized bites at dessert. As with Nodoguro’s former “Supahardcore” format, fresh oysters and cooked seafood such as a sake-steamed abalone will lead to a series of creative dishes, including a Thanksgiving dinner-inspired duck slice with pumpkin and cranberry jam, followed by a quick sushi progression made from fish flown in from Japan. Dinners cost $250 per person, with an optional wine and sake pairing for $50.
Beyond cooking at the culinary conference, the Roadhouses stayed busy growing Eleusis. Last year, Ryan Roadhouse took a crash course on nutrition through Stanford University, and plans to use that knowledge to write menus for an affiliated app, as well as host wellness-focused cooking demos in the restaurant space. The brand’s concept store, Eleusis Way, should open shortly after Nodoguro.
Nodoguro opens for dinner four nights a week starting on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 623 N.E. 23rd Ave. Roadhouse recommends signing up for the restaurant’s waiting list and following its Instagram account for news about future dates in January.
Nodoguro, one of America’s finest Japanese restaurants, will not reopen in its current SE Portland home
— Michael Russell; email@example.com; @tdmrussell
Our journalism needs your support. Please become a subscriber today at OregonLive.com/subscribe