The next time you find yourself craving Japanese-inspired cuisine, head to Bakerview Square for sushi, teriyaki, noodles, and more. “Oishii” means “delicious” in Japanese and– as any of their longtime regulars will tell you– Bellingham’s Oishii Teriyaki & Rolls more than lives up to its name.
Owner Helen Yoo opened Oishii with her husband in 1993, when her youngest son was just three months old. Nearly three decades later, the restaurant is still family-run in the truest sense of the term– and Yoo’s sons, including the youngest, have now joined their parents in the kitchen.
Yoo says Oishii has gone through a number of evolutions over the years, including a change of locations and the addition of more sushi options. Even so, the original teriyaki (a “family secret sauce”) is popular enough that, even when customers leave Bellingham, Yoo finds a way to keep them supplied.
“Some [customers] will move away, but then their parents buy teriyaki sauce and then ship it to them,” Yoo says.
Oishii has built up a loyal base of customers over the years, many of whom have been regulars since the beginning. Despite the fact that Yoo’s sons are now in their thirties, longtime patrons still occasionally comment on just how much they’ve grown. Yoo’s devotion to her clientele is even reflected on the menu; certain rolls, such as the Firecracker Roll ($14.99), were named by customers.
The first thing we tried at Oishii was the Orange Roll ($13.99), which includes tuna, cucumber and avocado and comes topped with masago and slices of salmon. Next up was the Red Dragon Roll ($13.99), which is essentially a California roll wrapped in tuna and topped with spicy mayo and masago.
Both were delicious, but the Orange Roll in particular encapsulated everything I love about sushi. The cucumber/avocado combination provided an excellent contrast in textures, and the fish was melt-in-your-mouth fresh.
Of course, these options are just the tip of the proverbial sushi iceberg: Oishii offers more than 30 different rolls as well as nigiri and sashimi. They also serve appetizers, noodles, stir fry, and several flavors of Mochi Ice Cream ($4.99) for dessert.
We also tried the Chicken Teriyaki Bowl ($11.99), which consisted of juicy chicken strips layered over a bed of rice and vegetables. Yoo’s secret recipe delivers a sweet-yet-umami kick, and if you prefer your sauce on the fiery side, you can get it “hot and spicy” for an additional 50 cents.
Can’t decide between sushi and teriyaki? Luckily you don’t have to: The Bento Combo ($25.99-$29.99) includes both. Customers can choose between three combinations of items such as California rolls, teriyaki, tempura, and nigiri.
The House Combo ($15.99-16.99) is another easy option for diners who’d like to sample a bit of everything; we tried ours with chicken and gyoza, but other proteins (including katsu) are also available.
Having sampled the food, it’s clear why customers come back to Oishii year after year. Firstly, Yoo has high standards when it comes to ingredients, so customers can count on everything being as fresh as possible. Secondly, she genuinely loves making food. When it comes to preparing meals, Yoo “cooks with her heart”– and it shows.
“I think that this is the right job for me, because I’ve never hated my job. I never say, ‘I don’t want to do this, I want to move on to something else,’” Yoo says. “I’m just happy right now.” 424 W. Bakerview Rd., Ste. 101, Bellingham, 360.671.6007, oishiiteriyaki.com