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A Review of Murata's Tatami Room Experience in Portland

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

With Japan open for tourism after a long hiatus, all I can dream about is tatami room seating in cozy paper door environs, of griddled topped tables and sizzling hida beef, and of seven seat Izakayas for a hot bowl of ramen. At every opportunity, I seek Japanese food to whet my appetite for my spring travels during sakura. Recently I had the fortune of stumbling upon exactly what I was dreaming of in Portland, Oregon at Murata Restaurant.

As you walk in the door, you are instantly greeted by a sea of "Reserved" signs on the tables - a good sign that the 10 table restaurant is popular - and I got a peek into the three tatami rooms tucked away on the side.

First of all, ta-whatty?

Ta-tah-mee. It's a straw mat flooring traditional in Japan!

Traditional tatami room with pillows and straw mats
Traditional tatami room

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In a tatami room, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering and you are seated around either a sunken floor or must kneel on a pillow or against a short backed, legless chair. In any case, your butt is firmly (and very comfortably) planted on a straw mat.

At Murata, we called ahead for the special room and were welcomed in by the friendliest, bubbliest of Japanese women. She giggled and cooed at my daughter, turning three that day, and even brought her a cute animated cartoon plate and fork set.

Tatami seating at Murata
Tatami seating at Murata

To get started we had green tea and each ordered one of their beautifully prepared lunch combos - an amazing value! For a little under $30 you can get the double-deckered bento featuring all the goodies from sashimi, chicken teriyaki, tempura, salmon and more, or for about $22 you can have a combo meal featuring your choice of two items. Choices include beef, tonkatsu (breaded pork), sashimi or nigiri (or both!), salmon, mackerel, and so on. All meals were accompanied by picked cucumbers, onions, miso soup and rice. The Makunouchi bento (the $30 one) came with matcha powder to sprinkle on the tempura - almost like a salty topping. Mm. Portions were really big and the quality was unbeatable for the price. What a great value!

Pick two lunch combo with tonkatsu and nigiri
Pick two lunch combo with tonkatsu and nigiri

Makunouchi Bento box
Makunouchi Bento box

We finished with matcha (green tea) ice cream and strawberry mochi ice cream. Yum. I was getting all the Japanese vibes I needed.

Matcha and mochi ice cream
Matcha and mochi ice cream

I was pleased to see a touch of Japanese culture in the bathroom - (seriously, have you guys read my "Tale of Ten Toilets" yet?) - they had a bidet apparatus with all the funky buttons - save for the smiley faced emojis. Darn. I guess I still have to go to Japan for that one.

Finally, Murata's staff behind the scenes were also so polite, hard at work and poised. I was super impressed that everyone wore kimono style shirts or upmarket chef's clothes. Nice touch, Murata.

Chef at work at Murata
Chef at work at Murata

I have to laugh at myself, when the large tatami table beside us filled in with a Japanese business group, we all slouched a little less, made ourselves a little more proper, and took on a bit more grace in the remainder of our meal. It's so incredible that even in the hustle and bustle of the big city, this place of calm really connected us to the Japanese culture.

Suffice it to say, if you are headed to Portland, skip the strip mall sushi joint and seek out Murata. You won't be disappointed!

a business card for murata


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Hi, I'm Maria!

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