Lunch at Sansai Japanese Grill

Photograph By: Brad Braun

I had the pleasure of having lunch at Sansai Japanese Grill today. Sansai is located at 539 NW 21st Ave
Portland, OR 97210. I first started eating at Sansai when I was still working in that area. 21st is known for having a lot of great eateries, so when it comes to picking a place for lunch, it was always a dilemma. I could of visited the Thai restaurant down the street, or the panda Express which was two blocks down, or the delicious bakery just up the street. No matter the temptation of good eateries around me, i always end up eating at Sansai.

21st is a very busy street and parking can be a problem on the weekends. Parallel street parking is a must for this district and if you are someone like me, who is Asian and not very good at parallel parking, well you should avoid this street. This explains why i have not visited Sansai since I stopped working in that Area.

For the last couple of days I had this insane craving for Nigiri. I went to several different Sushi Bars, but none came close to satisfied my cravings. Since i was in the area today, I decided to visit Sansai once again.

I am happy to say they did not disappoint me. The Sushi was well prepared and the taste was excellent.

Japanese Red Snapper (Tai)
 Tai is a white fish, and not one of my favorites. I try not to order this type of fish because if not prepared right, the fishiness can be a bit strong. Sansai is the only place I can order Tai and not complain about the strong fish taste. The way they prepared their rice gave the fish a really good balancing reducing the strong fishiness.
Salmon (Sake)
 Salmon is my favorite Nigiri. No matter where I go I have to have it. My favorite is the Sake Toro, which is the fattiest part of the whole Salmon. I am usually disappointed by Sushi bars here, because the Salmon is sliced too thin and lacking flavor in the Rice.  When i was in Hong Kong I tasted the best Sake Nigiri. The salmon was cut thick, and rice had just enough vinegar to make salmon standout. I experience that again when I had it at Sansai. The Sake was beyond my expectation.  

Unagi (eel)
Unagi is one of my favorites. I love eel, no matter if it's served as nigiri or as a yummy clay pot dish you get at a Chinese food restaurant, eel always taste good to me. The only thing i don't like about eel is how much bones it has. I hate bitting into a Unagi and finding bones. There are a couple of places I do not get Unagi from and that is the reason. I love Unagi is at it's best when it has the right amount of fat and meet. It makes the whole eel more plump and juicy. The Sause really intensified the eel taste. I love this dish very much.

Saba (mackerel) 
Saba is another fish that has a really strong fishy taste and not everyone can handle. I particularly like Saba because I find the taste Unique. The onions on the Saba definitely helped with the fishiness. It gave it a really refreshing taste. I really enjoy the Saba at there. 

This is their specialty dish. When I saw it on the menu i thought it was really pretty and unique. I love trying new things, so i ordered it. It comes on top of a shrimp, which I couldn't grab with my chopstick along with what I am holding. I don't remember the name of the dish, but there is a big picture of it on their menu. It is a crab salad wrapped around Tobiko with raw quail egg on top. I think this dish is perfect for a warm summer day. The dish is very flimsy, which is suggested to be eaten whole, because if you take a bite, it will fall apart. This dish made my body incredibly cool and gave me cold chills. It's not something I would pick if I knew the effect. Especially when it was raining outside.

Overall I was very satisfied with the food, and the Cheft was extremely friendly. Maybe because he saw me snapping pictures and recording videos as I eat lol. I have heard there is one other Restaurant in Portland that is known to be the best Sushi place in town. I still haven't had a chance to visit that restaurant, but hopefully in the near future.


  1. Now I gotta check this place out.. >__<

  2. Janie! omg everything looks soooo good! I'm a sushi fanatic so this post makes me want to grab some sushi today! I'm loving how your camera captured the vibrant colors so well! <3

  3. Yum! These pictures are making me crave sushi now :) That's weird how the last one made you feel cold. It looks good though!