During the mid-Edo Period of Japanese feudalism, the Yakuza caste was made up of misfits and undesirables, easily identified by their elaborate tattoos and non-conformist hairdos. The Yakuza formed extended “families” and lived off the feudal grid in their own secluded villages and neighborhoods. Our restaurant name pays homage to these original black sheep of a highly structured society. We like to think they’d feel right at home in Portland, amongst our own merry bands of beautiful outcasts.
Combining Yakuza’s sophistication, adherence to strict codes of conduct and attention to play, we offer Portland’s transcendents a symbolic dining experience. We support our outcasts by offering local, organic ingredients. Chef Brian Kenney’s menu brandishes favorites like Steelhead Tatami, Tuna Poki, Hamachi and our Yakuza Burger -- deemed legendary by Portland Monthly Magazine.
Our extensive drinks menu renders both the tried-and-true and the unorthodox in sakes, cocktails, beer & wine.
Nestled in a hushed neighborhood, we are located at 30th & Killingsworth. Don’t let the sun go down without visiting our lavish and secluded outdoor patio overlooking the Japanese garden.
Yakuza will reliably impress and surprise, producing dishes beyond experience or expectation.
/ David Sarasohn, The Oregonian /
Meet the team
While growing up in Salt Lake, Brian sought out the hidden gems of food and culture that existed in and outside of the city. After having many wonderful experiences dining at sushi bars he decided he wanted to give people that same kind of experience. He begged his way into an apprenticeship to become a sushi chef; once he established himself in the culinary world, he moved to Portland to become part of the growing culinary scene. With him came his passion for Japanese inspired cuisine. 11 years later, he has been a fixture behind sushi bars and in the kitchens of some of Portland’s highly rated restaurants. He spends his time cooking and educating himself on food that has captivated him through his journey.
Department of Food & Shelter is the culmination of of Dayna McErlean’s 22+ years living in Portland. Dayna has the ability to see the inner charisma and potential of uncared for architecture, bringing new life to neighborhoods and communities.
In 1996, Dayna formed Itisness -- a bustling artists’ enclave on the corner of NE 30th & Killingsworth, paving the way for what now is arguably one of the most diverse and beloved neighborhoods in NE Portland. Building on that community, in 2004 she designed and built The Loft space above what is now Yakuza Izakaya, where she would live for ten years. The Loft is now one of the most thoughtfully designed, spacious and artistically accomplished lodging options in the area. While living in the space, Dayna was yet again inspired and began to create the Yakuza concept; and in 2006 Yakuza Izakaya’s doors opened.
Behind Yakuza Izakaya is a 1922 carriage house, which would become chef’s boarding during the first year of operations. The Kuza Cabin is now one of the most unique lodging experiences in the area. In 2007, Dayna helped finance and construct Beast, just next door to Yakuza, one of Portland’s most exclusive fine dining experiences. To follow, in 2008, DOC was born -- an altogether divine and unique Portland restaurant. And, finally, in 2014 Dayna opened Nonna Tavern, adjacent to DOC, making NE 30th & Killingsworth a McErlean-driven enclave of Portland’s leading restaurants, drawing more business to the area.
McErlean has and continues to develop a unique niche for travelers and locals alike -- bringing culture and artistic expression, an understanding of community and keen aptitude for business to Portland’s hospitality scene. Dayna, in her 22+ year relationship with Portland, has cultivated a genuine sense of coming home, a “Bed & Dinner” for travelers, locals, work retreats, up-and-coming food talent and anyone in between.
Our Local Partners
Many thanks to our local farm partners for providing us with the highest quality ingredients.
Loop De Loop Wines
Bow & Arrow Wines
Yakuza is also available for private parties.
Capacity for a seated dinner is 70 people or up to 100 if the party is mingling. The main dining room holds 50 seated plus 8 at the bar with an additional 12-16 in the back dining room. During warmer weather months our beautifully landscaped back patio seats an additional 20+. Please contact us for pricing and details.
Info about renting out Kuza Cabin for private dinner party.