Angela Cash
Bad sushi is like bad sex: It induces fear, confusion, discomfort, and disgust. Try putting an aged glob of sea urchin in your mouth and it doesn't matter how tight the roll is or how sticky the rice (Are you following my vague sex analogy? No, me neither.), you're going to gag and throw up in your mouth. Thus, unlike a burger or a bowl of mac and cheese, the sushi has to be great, not just good--because eating sketchy sushi is about as stupid as going on a date with a drunk bike messenger. Here are a few of our most well-loved (and safe) sushi havens for your gorging pleasure.

Yoko's
2878 SE Gladstone, 736-9228

Yoko's is very small, and very crowded almost all the time (which may mean they'll turn you away), and has the best albacore tuna in town. Yoko's is one of the only places that I actually freak the fuck out over the deliciousness of the raw fish chunks. Something about their tuna sashimi leaves me salivating for days ($9.75). If you don't want to brave the raw, stick to the Veggie Wedgie Roll ($6), stuffed with tasty tempura vegetables. And make sure to check out the giant fish tank--it's trippy. DELAINE WAVERLY

Sushi Takahashi
24 NW Broadway, 224-3417

One of the more popular and user-friendly sushi joints, Sushi Takahashi has a train running around the restaurant from which you procure your spoils. Try the hamachi (yellowtail), anything with salmon, or the caterpillar roll made with eel and avocado. Also, the restaurant's specialty is a batter-fried snapper and it's great. Because everything is damn good, you can grab plates from the train with reckless abandon and still never be delivered a bill that's over $20. KATIE SHIMER

Masu Sushi
406 SW 13th, 221-6278

Masu has turned sushi (and the sushi house) into a modern art form, with inventive combinations and gorgeous presentations in a slick, stylized environment. While rumor has it the service can be sketchy, as long as you have a couple hours to drink sake and eat, you'll be fine. Oh, and speaking of spending, make sure you've got a wad, because Masu ain't cheap. While there, don't miss the "monkey tama," (spicy tuna-stuffed mushrooms) the lotus roll (tuna, crab, and avocado fried in tempura)and the $9 spider rolls. The soft-shell crab might look crazy with all its legs hanging out, but it's completely edible, salty, and delicious. DW Bush Gardens 900 SW Morrison, 226-7181 This sushi restaurant/bar has been a Portland staple for years thanks to its downtown location and super-fun karaoke bonanzas. And just last month, I actually walked into the restaurant (as opposed to just getting sloshed in the bar area), and found myself in elegant, authentic surroundings that seemed straight out of Tokyo. Paper walls? Check. Kneeling pads at the tables? Check. Attractive, Kimono-clad Japanese waitresses? You better believe it. Delicious sushi? Check. Their creations are far better than those at the average sushi joint, with a killer spicy tuna roll and phenomenal eel. The ambiance is topnotch, plus it's one of the better places to drink in town, and we all know that nothing supplements drunkenness like raw fish. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS

Hama Sushi
4232 NE Sandy, 249-1021

Tell me if you think I'm wrong (via the God, I'm Starving Blog at www.portlandmercury.com), but for my money I say Hama Sushi is the best in town. I haven't been there in a month and still can perfectly imagine the big, fresh chunks of raw tuna tossed in creamy sauce in the spicy tuna handroll, and the gleaming strips of avocado in the California handroll. Smaller sushi rolls are all beautifully crafted with the freshest fish, each one decorated with salty tobiko (fish eggs). Anything on Hama's menu is utterly safe and amazing, and they're usually not very crowded, so you'll feel free to stuff yourself in peace. KS

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