If you ever find yourself at Oregon Health Science University craving Thai, a two-minute walk to a family owned Japanese-Thai restaurant is all it takes to feed your craving. 

Nestled away at the top of Marquam Hill, Oishi Thai serves a wide variety of Asian dishes. Family-owned is an understatement, as this whole joint is completely managed by four people. One of them is 9-years-old and makes one of the best tasting crab puffs Portland has to offer.

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(Nui threw a free block party to celebrate getting her liquor license.)

The owner, Nui, is the ruby jewel of this ship. She not only takes all the orders, cashiers, and bar tends, she is also the chef and hostess. Nui doesn’t speak English too well, but she does her best to get a message across. Customers fall in love with the way Nui admires her guests, filling every request and always remembering their favorite sushi roll.

And for the size of the restaurant, this SW Portland destination has options. With a 6-page menu, any single item is sure to grab your attention. Five types of thick curry, filling appetizers like crab rangoons, and endless ramen options are just a teaser into their menu. However, the sushi rolls take the trophy home. With traditional rolls like the California and Veggie ($3) placed alongside original recipes like the Beauty and the Beast ($6), a half-eel, half-tuna, cucumber and avocado roll drizzled with warm sweet sauce, their sushi is hard to resist.

With a variety of options from different regions of Asia, Nui gets questions often about the blended nature of Oishi. “Is this Japanese or Thai food?”

Nui immigrated from Thailand and brought her two half-Japanese sons with her. She wanted to bring her family’s blended traditions together to create a multi-cultural dining destination, open to all. Her 9-year-old son, Ty Ty, is usually hanging around the property, which shares a humble parking lot with Plaid Pantry. He doesn’t actually work for Nui, but he loves being in the kitchen and practicing his serving. Some may find this to be unprofessional or quirky, but it is a constant reminder to the values of family and togetherness the restaurant upholds. Ty Ty is also a self-taught juggler and loves to entertain guests at Oishi.

Up on the wall sits a giant TV screen, with a slideshow of adorable animals and funny videos constantly playing as background noise. The restaurant is colorful and fun, and Ty Ty’s reading nook offers an area for children to play.

There are a few secrets in Nui’s cookbook that don’t appear on the physical menu, or online anywhere, and she loves to WOW customers with them. Fans of Thai iced tea must try Nui’s tangy and smooth Thai Lime Tea, with lime instead of cream. Nui also serves a fried banana tempura style over soft-serve vanilla ice cream, drizzled with hot fudge and salted caramel. It’s a good thing there’s a hospital nearby.

Jillian Odiorne

Part Time Culinary Student, Full-Time Nanny and Daycare Manager