Even BurgerDogBoy and Mrs BDB celebrate anniversaries in traditional ways – dinner, wine, gifts….it’s not ALWAYS about the burger (hic!). As you know, Mrs. BDB loves sushi, so its off to sushi bars on special occasions, and tonight was no exception. We headed for Yakuza Lounge, an intimate dining experience (only 26 seats) in NE Portland, at the intersection of a half dozen great restaurants.
We had a couple stops to make along the way, but we still arrive earlyish- 5:40 or so, and the room was fairly clear of diners. We were shown to our seats, a table for two, and started to peruse the menus.
Mrs. BDB quickly chose her sushi plates, and we elected to share a cucumber, avocado, and pepper salad, awash in a sesame dressing.
And me? I went with an all beef night theme, with Kobe Tartar (sic) for a starter, and the Yakuza Burger for my entree. Yakusa is all about minimalism, in their decor, presentation, and even menu descriptions, so the Yakusa menu describers their burger as simply beef, chevre, shoestring potatoes. Combing through some internet archives, there is a reference to the beef being “Durang Ranch American Kobe” beef (kudos for the “American Kobe” designation), and the tartar (sic) being from the same source.
A further description for the appetizer includes a “crispy poached egg” and baguette.
Presentation on both was very aesthetically pleasing, with a delicate mound of raw beef mixed with onion and herbs, capped with the crispy poached egg (this is an achievement I can’t even begin to contemplate how they managed – a perfectly poached egg with a light tempura coating), and several toast points artfully stacked next to the beef.
The burger is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Portland. The server did not ask for my preference on how it was to be cooked, I would have said “how the chef suggests”, and in fact it came cooked to “bleu” stage, very rare, and was delightful in every aspect. The cheese was very creamy, the house-made ketchup tangy, tomato-y, not sweet, and the very fresh and ample sesame bun was very soft, but ample enough to hold a juicy patty without collapsing. The final dressing was a few springs of a bitter green, a nice complement. Final touches were a dab of dressing on the bottom bun, perhaps a tangy variation of everyone’s secret sauce, w/o the powerful aftertaste of most thousand islands, and the crispy, very thin shoestrings atop the patty. Difficult to pick up and eat, but this never matters to me, as you know I disassemble burgers to eat them component by component.
So in addition to the the love affair I am having with Violetta burgers, downtown, my next two runners up for best burgers in Portland are both at sushi bars, this one and Bamboo Sushi.
I really recommend you try this one out, folks. BTW? In Japanese, Yakuza means “organized gang, or member of same.”