Hokusei PFA: Home Run

The folks at Hokusei really knocked it out of the park. I had billed this dinner with a definite omakase sushi slant, and yes, it was omakase, and yes, there was some sushi, but it was SO much more than that. We had nine courses of Kaoru Ishii’s presentation of the best of Hokusei, along with Brian’s superior sake, cocktail and beer pairings (welcome bubbly notwithstanding), and that was a wonderful backdrop for a fantastic buzzy evening of enjoyment.


New York Strip

Photo courtesy of EatingMyWayThroughPortland


Photo courtesy of Salt.Water.Coffee

I had the good fortune of sitting at a great table with Ron, who has come to a number of PFAs, Kevin Ahn, of the Portland Foodie Meetup Group, and (one of the most awesome eligible food-loving adventuresome bachelors in Portland), and Ivy Manning, who is not only a prolific food writer, teacher and appreciator, but is also one of the most fun, witty and interesting people I’ve ever sat with at a PFA (and there have been 32 of them). And then there was one of my favorite people in Portland–bar none–the more than lovely Brenda Crow, of OurFoodShed.com and also who happens to have the awesome gig of spreading Portland’s very own Olympic Provisions product all over the USA, as their sales manager. The energy and fun we had at our table represents all that I’ve learned to love about PFAs–the essence of enjoying food and beverages among friends, and using it as the lubrication to make new ones. I really loved this evening. And apparently, so did they:

I enjoy the idea that everyone has their own experience at a PFA–depending on who they’re sitting with–but with the shared thread of the same food, drink and atmosphere. Everyone gets the chef’s choices–dishes they may not normally have ordered, and while it’s unlikely every dish is to everyone’s liking, it’s still good to try new things and find an occasional new favorite because of it. For me, I have a few mentioned above I will be sure to order at Hokusei again, or even somewhere else if I see something like it on a menu.  Collectively, though, it’s impossible not to have thought of the evening as a food adventure.  Plus drinks.

Now, this time out, for the second time ever, we had no official photographer. But not to worry, we had at to fantastic bloggers in the house, Amy from EatingMyWayThroughPortland and Sara from Salt.Water.Coffee.

They both did a marvelous job of helping you to see why they enjoyed PFAs from their own respective perspectives. (Say that a few times fast.)

Click on the images below to see their blogs from this delightful evening.

I also included the text from my welcome email here, since a few people said they enjoyed it. Seriously, I wrote it before the coffee kicked in, so I’m glad.

** Season 3/Episode 10


A long, long time ago, my brother lived in Los Angeles and he discovered a restaurant he couldn’t stop raving about. When he told me I would love this stuff called sushi, I assumed it was another one of his trendy LA things, and figured I’d placate him and go.

He took me down La Cienega Boulevard, the same street where my Dad used to take us to Lawry’s for Prime Rib, to this tiny little spot where there were lines out the door. He had made friends with the sushi chef, whose name was Nobu. Nobu saw Pete and invited us past the celebrities waiting in line and sat us down at his sushi bar. I’d never had sushi before, nor had I ever sat at a “bar” to eat. Chef Nobu decided what to serve us, and the one dish I remember most wasn’t sushi — black cod. The most tender fish imaginable, with flavors that at the time were foreign to me. I also remember the bill was about $600 for four of us, and we weren’t drinking anything. Years later sushi became very popular in this country, and as it turns out, that little restaurant and chef Nobu Matsuhisa spawned an industry. Nobu later went on to open restaurants all over the world, with his Nobu NY getting endless accolades, and huge waitlists. I, myself, couldn’t wait to return to Matsuhisa every time I went to LA to visit, and saved up for the experience.

So when I read last year about a new place opening up on Belmont featuring a former chef at Matsuhisa, Kaoru Ishii, of course it caught my attention. I’ve been into Hokusei a few times since, and not only is it my favorite atmosphere of any sushi place in Portland, but the dishes are fresh and delicious and as memorable as those that I had the privilege to enjoy years ago. Last night I caught a tweet by Michael Zusman, the Portland food critic who writes for Willamette Week,saying he was enjoying Greg Denton’s suggested favorite place for sushi, @hokuseipdx, and I asked how it was going– he wrote back that he thought it was great. He’s not a forgiving critic, so I was glad to hear that the night before our PFA, he was having a great experience. I am confident Chef Ishii and Cody and Casey, the two very nice people who helped arrange our PFA and programmed your adventure, have a fantastic night in store–I want this to be as memorable for everyone as Matsuhisa was for me.

A tall order since we’ve most all had Japanese food now. It’s not going to be just sushi. What’s been programmed for you to enjoy tonight is a full range of the Japanese culinary experience. That will be explained later! If demand is any indication, there will be 40 of you there this evening to enjoy some excellent dishes and the company of other food lovers. As with any PFA, more than half have been with us before, the rest are coming for their first experience. Thank you all! I sincerely appreciate everyone deciding to spend their hard-earned dining dollars on these really fun adventures, and of course, am most gratified to see people returning over and over again! Tonight you’ll have some awesome additional experiences to enjoy, and I encourage you to use your cards and certificates!


You’re all in for treats.

I’ve been looking forward to this dinner for a long time, and after my late night conversation with Cody last night about the menu (it’s way more than six courses), I’m even more excited! Let the battle begin!!! (The battle for your food loving soul!) Directions HERE (http://goo.gl/maps/wiUcv)

If you invited a guest, please forward this Email to them, and I am pretty sure I have those of you who planned to sit together all set, but you’re welcome to write me today to confirm. .



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