Yosaku – Shushi…and lots of it


When I feel like having sushi, there are a number of options in the Portland area I can chose from. This time, I decided to head over to Yosaku on Danforth St. The Japanese purveyor of sushi and such offers a large selection of everything one might expect from that type of restaurant. It’s conveniently located in the Old Port, but so are at least a couple other restaurants of the same genre, which might offer some assurance that they’re always on their game and making sure everything is up to snuff.

I had been craving some sushi for a while when we went there on a rainy night. As luck would have it, I stepped in a deep puddle on my walk from the car to the front door which made for an uncomfortable stroll. As I entered the restaurant with a squishy step in my left boot, we were quickly taken to a table. I faced a mirrored wall which allowed me to see my stunning image and also what was going on around me. We were almost immediately asked if we wanted drinks and despite the extensive list of sake and other beverages available, we passed and decided we were more interested food, particularly since we were there in the middle of the work week.

I wiped my hands with the warm cloth provided and then looked at the menu, noticing many of the items I had eaten on previous visits. The restaurant offered a diverse selection with plenty of options in addition to sushi, but I wasn’t interested in those on that night. I was pretty certain it was going to be sushi for me. I prefer maki/rolls and focused on those. The menu was color coded for simplicity – red was cooked, blue was vegetarian, black neither. That was important, because I have the shameful distinction of being the worst sushi eater on the planet since I don’t eat raw fish or avocado or use chopsticks.

Looking for red and blue lettering on the maki list, I quickly picked out the ones that were free of avocado. I wasn’t exceptionally hungry, but still decided to order as though I was. I’m usually able to consume a significant number of rolls without much trouble, so despite my lack of real appetite, I went maki crazy when it was time to order. I started with the Spicy Scallop – scallops broiled with spicy sauce. Then I added Gobo – pickled burdock, Inari – sweet tofu, Kanpyo – marinated gourd, Kappa Maki – cucumber, and Shiitake – cooked mushroom. My wife ordered Seaweed Salad – crunchy mixed seaweed vegetables in light sesame dressing – and Miso Soup – traditional miso soup with a kombu and bonito flake stock. Then she ordered some maki too, going with the Spicy Tuna – tuna and Yosaku spicy sauce. Once all that was in, she gave me a sly look and said “should we also order Edamame?” I’m not sure it was necessary, but we did.

The waitress departed with a warning that the scallop maki take longer than the other items which I both already knew and was fine with. My wife’s soup and salad came out first and I shared in the salad, taking a bite or two of the mild, tasty greenery. Next came the edamame. The steamed, salty soybeans are a staple of our Japanese food feasts. I started evicting beans from their pods right away, trying to go slowly enough that my wife would also have a chance to eat a fair amount of them.



We worked on the food we had, making short work of everything and then the scallops came out, despite being the ones that were going to “take longer than everything else”. I was glad they didn’t however, and took my first piece of the roll covered in sauce, adding the requisite wasabi and soy sauce which I had already poured in my little bowl. My word! The spicy scallop rolls were a hit as we both had one and subsequently praised its virtues. I’m pretty sure they’re my wife’s all time favorite sushi and I think they might be mine too. The creamy, spicy sauce and sweet, swaddled scallop was sushi sin. Sure, I felt a little dirty after eating it, but only because it seemed wrong, not because it actually was. It should be noted that a slice of pickled ginger promptly washed that feeling away.


Once we were just about done the scallop sushi, the rest of our order came out. I took a look at my massive tray of rice rolls. There were 30 in addition to the five I had already eaten. That was fine as I was up for the challenge of finishing the entire treat. I started in on the burdock, moving to the cucumber next, then the gourd, tofu, and mushroom. The cucumber and gourd were my favorites, but the others hit the spot . Though the cucumber rolls were relatively plain, I made them more exciting with heart-stopping amounts of wasabi and a more reasonable amount of soy sauce. If the rolls – cucumber or otherwise – don’t melt my face until tears fall from my eyes, I haven’t properly prepared my sushi for consumption.


Once I got to the shiitake maki, I started to feel the rice pushing on my internal organs. I tried my best to eat every last roll, but ended up leaving two lucky survivors behind. I felt comfortable stopping after eating 33 rolls in addition to a bunch of edamame and a few bites of seaweed salad. Mrs. Portlandeater ate considerably less, but enjoyed her tuna before watching me go into the depths of uncontrolled sushi ingestion. I can’t be sure, but I think she was half impressed by all I ate and still just a tad disappointed that I didn’t finish it.


After we both consumed as much as was humanly possible, we packed up a few rolls to take home. Our total tab came to just under $50 before tip. I couldn’t believe it. We had ordered 42 rolls, soup, salad, and soybeans and it was under 50 bones. After the $12 scallop rolls, the next most expensive item was the tuna at $5.50, which surprised me. I was sure they had made a mistake, but they had not. Since the price was so low, I convinced my wife pay and all seemed right with the world. I was fat, full, and happy.

Yosaku is a good place to go whether you want sushi or are looking more for tempura or noodles. Their food is artfully prepared by chefs who clearly know what they are doing. The presentation is first class and the product always tasty. Even though I’d been there a few times in the past, I’m not sure I recall the prices being so reasonabe, but I’m not complaining. For the amount of food we ate, we definitely got more than our money’s worth. I always enjoy Yosaku and suspect you will too. Let me know what you think and also how many rolls you can eat in a single sitting. I challenge you to a virtual maki-off.

Stay hungry.

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Peter Blanchette

About Peter Blanchette

Peter Peter Portland Eater grew up in Lewiston, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in English. After college, he left the state to work in Massachusetts, but the allure of a more comfortable life in his home state brought him back after eight years. Upon his return and after meeting his now wife – Mrs. Portlandeater, he slowly integrated himself into the Portland food scene by trying as many restaurants as he could afford. That and a desire to write for others again led him to start Peterpeterportlandeater.com where he reviews restaurants and blogs about whatever Portland/Maine food topics he finds interesting.