Yama Sushi & Sousaku Izakaya

2038 SE Clinton St.


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The popularity of sushi as a mainstay of the American diet has reached epic proportions over the past fifty years. Everyone knows what it is and almost everyone has tried it. That first experience can make a lifelong devotee or be a complete turnoff depending upon the sushi chef, the freshness of the ingredients and the choice of ingredients.

Heemoon “Chef Scott” Chae is managing the newly-opened  Yama Sushi & Sousaku Izakaya here in SE and is confident his menu will be satisfying to all levels of sushi aficionados.

The menu offers a large variety of not only sushi dishes, but other types of food that according to the meaning of the words sousaki izakaya, is creative food that accompanies drinks. “We serve Japanese drinks, Shapiro beer, local beers and have a good connection with a Forrest Grove sake maker, Momokawa,” Chef Scott said. The atmosphere is casual but elegant with the sushi chefs neatly uniformed behind the bar ready to serve you. Chae notes that they are all well-trained Japanese chefs.

Chef Scott went to cooking school in his ho meland when he was nineteen and learned the fine art of making sushi, tempura and other traditional Japanese foods.

“The secret to really good sushi is fresh, small fish,” he said. The smaller the fish, the less likely it is that it will contain mercury. Along with what fish and seafood the Pacific northwest oceans have to offer, they get fish from the Atlantic and the Sea of Japan flown in small batches, two to three times a week. This assures the freshness and most importantly the availability of certain types of fish.

“There are many options, but the foremost consideration is that the fish/seafood is sushi grade,” he said.

asushioutThe Japanese archipelago offers a wealth of natural ingredients. Since they are often at the mercy of Mother Nature, they tend to go with the ebb and flow of the seasons by choosing unique tastes available at various times of the year. One of the main objectives of the food is to allow each flavor to come out in their dishes so nothing is to heavy or over-mixed.

Yama serves their own creation of Japanese tapas. Some choices include: Edamame–lightly salted, boiled soybeans; Tako Wasa–fresh chopped octopus seasoned with Wasabi, assorted pickles or the Izakya tasting–a platter of four different chef choices.

Grilling is another way the Japanese like to prepare food, it sears in the flavor of a meat, fish or vegetable and is served with a special sauce to enhance flavor. The Black Cod (Gindara) sounded especially good: miso sake marinated with wild Alaska black cod or the Kobe skewer w/ truffle salt.

Cooking the sushi rice is also an important part of the presentation. Chef Scott uses Jasmine sushi rice and he says that the timing and the temperature need to be just right in order to roll up into the aesthetic plates they serve at Yama.

To stay current with food trends, Chef Scott returns to Japan once a year for a month, sampling the food and learning new recipes and ways to prepare the standards. This keeps Yama’s entreés changing and evolving.

The first known history of sushi in Japan began around the 8th century. It was first developed as a means of preserving fish in fermented rice. As it evolved, people began to eat the rice too – it was one of the first Asian fast foods. Sushi was first introduced to the general population of the United States in the mid-1960s and has become a stable of many of our diets–fresh, healthy and light.

Yama Sushi & Sousaku Izakaya

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