Today was the day we did the Oregon Zoo. I'm not trying to sound unenthusiastic; however, it seems to be quite repetitious with any other zoo we've been too. You got your theme zones with specific types of animals. I really love the exhibits where there is a big sign indicating that some exotic animal can be found. Looking around, there is no animal. Like "Where is Waldo?", I simply cannot spot the Red-billed Hornbills. There is the occasional laughable display that tries to be representative of the originating land. Some drums in a hut does not constitute African living. Although that AfriCafe sure serves up some truly authentic burgers, hot dogs and burritos... er... What makes it the more fun is the parking lot. There just doesn't seem to be enough parking spots for all the people who want to visit the zoo and the adjacent Children's Museum. I just loved the lady in the gold Camry that decided to ignore the fact I existed and blocked my exit route. I'm sorry; but you have to be pretty out-of-it to not notice a big, black SUV bearing down on you. Don't you love people who don't look over at you in hopes of that act alone will possibly make you magically disappear?
Anyways, after 4.5 hours of wandering around, fighting the crowds and lining up for things, we headed off to dinner. What better way to wind down than to wait almost an hour for dinner? That's right, just like the night before at the Screen Door, we did it all again at Saburo's. We are indeed gluttons for punishment. 2 tired and cranky kids, one huge-ass lineup and a warm day = recipe for some pretty painful results. Good thing we had some things going for us. Our daughter was so pooped that she just slept and the DS/iPhone combination helped keep our son occupied. Furthermore, we met a really nice couple who kept us entertained. Why the lineup in the first place? Generally it is usually based on one of 2 things (or both), either the food is really good or really big. At the very least, we knew of the big portions, now we just needed to see if it was any good...
Once we were seated, a few menus and a dry erase pen awaited us. You see, the way to order here is to mark off what you want directly on the menu. We started off with a Wakame Salad. Slightly on the drier side, it was still good. Nice crunchy texture with a nice mild taste. We got an order of the Salmon Sashimi and it arrived looking like someone merely hacked it up. In what was essentially 4 large pieces of salmon, it was further cut into 3 more pieces each. Not pretty and not really all that right either. It was curiously plated on a bed of cucumber (not daikon). However, the salmon wasn't all that bad, so I'll leave it at that. As for our 2 specialty rolls, I chose one and our new friends recommended the Sabu Roll. Consisting of cucumber, tobiko and avocado on the inside and red tuna, albacore tuna and salmon on the outside, this was a decent roll. I found the rice to be on the mushier side and quite sweet. I did like how the tobiko was laced with sesame oil. I know this is not that common; but the taste worked in this roll. As for the Shogun Roll (that I picked out), it was not as successful. With cucumber, avocado and tomago on the inside with seared eel on the outside, I thought this roll was a bit boring. Unlike BBQ unagi, I found the eel in this roll to be dry and lifeless. Furthermore, there weren't any ingredients to compensate of the lack of flavours.
With a recommendation that we try the Unagi Nigiri, we got an order (which consists of 2 pcs for $4.50). My word. I've never seen such large slices of unagi in my life atop rice. Not only large lengthwise, they were quite thick as well. Viv remarked that the unagi had one too many bones. For me, it didn't really make much of a difference. To complete our sushi order, I got 2 pcs of the Scallop & Tobiko Nigiri as well. With the same sesame oil-laced tobiko, I found that it actually helped accent the large full pieces of sweet scallop. It didn't overpower the scallops one bit. Once again, these were huge.
For the kiddies, we got the Tempura Udon. There are 2 ways to plate this and we got the tempura right in the broth itself. The result were really soggy ebi and onion tempura. I really prefer it on the side. As for the udon, it was still chewy (which is good). The broth was really flavourful from the copious amount of sweet onion. For the price we paid, we got lots of bang for the buck. I wouldn't say that the food was necessarily good or bad, it was somewhere in the middle. Trying not to compare with Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, B.C., I would say Saburo's is decent for Portland and a great value.
- Massive portions
- Reasonable prices
- Decent given its location
- Food is pretty average and not made with care
- Long waits
- Not the most comfortable place to dine