I’m not usually someone who eats out often, but in the past two weeks you could say that I have significantly boosted the Eugene economy with my food cravings. For those who haven’t experience the culinary mastery that is Eugene’s eclectic and exciting foodie scene, it’s easy to get wrapped up into delicious ethnic cuisines and signature fresh provisions.
Just one of the many amazing restaurants located in the Fifth Street Public Market, Sushi Pure creates a Japanese flare that is hard to forget. Serving traditional Japanese cuisines and a wide variety of hand-made sushi, the dark-lit restaurant pops with high-quality food paired with an atmosphere that emphasis the customer experience. Soft black and red fabrics balanced with the sharp edges of the dark tables and offset by soft yellow wall lanterns, the interior demonstrates the restaurant’s value to detail like its hand-rolled, made to order sushi.
Sushi Pure, photo courtesy of Yelp.com
With a wide variety of sushi from simple to chef specialties and ranging in price that makes sushi accessible anytime, Pure Sushi is a wonder spot for a light lunch or formal dinner. The menu also provides sushi alternatives such as traditional chicken teriyaki served in a creative lunch box to soups and other full Japanese entrees.
Sad when I clasp the last piece of sushi, my meal was beyond good. Served on a modern, white square plate and perfectly presented, my dinner consisted of eight spicy tuna rolls surrounded by light purple sticky rice and six mini sushi rolls with soft, succulent shrimp accented by crunchy cucumber. Each piece I ate slowly to enjoy the lovely mixture of flavors and textures and in hope that the experience would continue for as long as possible – something that I hope each new visitor to this excellent sushi restaurant can enjoy and savor sweetly.
296 East Fifth Avenue, suite 220, Eugene, OR 97401, (541) 654-0608
Open Monday – Saturday, 11:00 am – 2:30 pm (lunch), 5:00 – 9:30 pm (dinner), Sake bar open until 2:00 am Friday and Saturday
In a light, modern space at the Oakway Center, Sabai, one of the newest residents to this lively outdoor shopping complex, sends you in hungry and sends you out blissfully content. Serving diverse flavors and cuisines from the Pacific Rim, the restaurant emphasizes fresh ingredients with simple recipes that are light on the stomach but precisely prepared. Accented with traditional Thai food, the menu also offers the opportunity to individualize your dish with level of spice and protein options that include vegetarian selections, hand-cut meats and fresh seafood.
Sabai, Sarah enjoying Pad Him Ma Parn
With a variety of Noodle dishes, curries and stir fries on their main entrée menu, my selection was difficult – but I was excited to see that each of my friends chose a different item. I had Sabai’s signature noodle dish, properly names Sabai Noodle with chicken as my protein. A Pad Thai rice noodle stir fried with egg, fresh bean sprouts and topped with peanuts and a dash of lime, my meal was evenly coated with the lightly sweet sauce and the texture varied with the crunchiness of the nuts with the cool, pleasant slim of the thin noodles. Contrasting to the Sabai Noodle, my friend’s plate of Pad Him Ma Parn dazzled with spice. A stir fry with chili paste, onions, bell peppers, carrots, water chestnuts and cashews and served with family style rice, this meal cleared my sinuses with a delicious mixture of spices.
Highlighted by extremely accommodating and friendly wait staff, Sabai is one restaurant that I imagine will stay bustling for a long time. But with that fact in mind, reservations are recommended for dinner especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. Also look out for the bathroom hall door, it sometimes locks itself! But just peak your head in the kitchen and they will free you to your food again.
27 Oakway Center, Eugene, Oregon 97401, (541) 654-54-24
Izakaya Meiji Company
More than just whisky – though this bar has a very extensive list – Izakaya Meiji Company in the Whitaker Neighborhood of Eugene, is a moody low-light, local-filled restaurant whose scents make you salivate as soon as you enter door. With wonderful service and even better food, this Japanese influenced restaurant offers an exquisite mixture of spices with fresh vegetables, grilled items and rice bowls. Served family-style servings to share that come out individually throughout the meal, the dining atmosphere is like a casual conversation with your food that thrills your mouth with each bit.
My dinner partner and I enjoy two appetizers and two entrees so to be able to taste a variety of items. The first to appear on our small square wooden table, lit by a hanging bare, industrial light bulb were five Gyoza. Perfectly pan-fried with a lit crispness to the outside of the sticky casing, these pork, cabbage and garlic homemade pot stickers slowly disintegrated in your mouth with a lightness of air. Our second appetizer, shitake mushrooms with miso butter served on a skewer, had a powerfully pleasant flavor that was by far my favorite item of the night – and I’m typically not a big mushroom fan. The shitake mushroom grilled lightly and mixed with the salt along with the full texture of the butter made me savor the spongy fungus with the delighted expression of the richest ice cream. And from there it continued to be amazing. For entrees I had a Japanese Style Curry with chicken and vegetables that had been cook gingerly for an hour and my friend had the Mabo Dofu, a minced grass fed beef balanced with tofu textured in spicy garlic and served with rice.
Outside the restaurant, photo courtesy of Yelp.com
While the food deserves five stars at this restaurant, the drink menu is definitely not to be ignored. With a full two-page list of whiskey and bourbons, along with beer, sake, wine, and unique house cocktails (I recommend the Black Chai – Jim Bean Black, chai tea infused vermouth and Angostura) you will not go thirsty. Both a great dinner location with surprisingly fare prices and after-hours hang out, Izakaya Meiji Company is a hot spot that I will return to every chance I get.
Open daily 5 pm – 1am
345 Van Buren, Eugene, OR 97402, (541) 505-8804
P.S. Can you tell what type of food I’ve been craving?
What’s your favorite Eugene restaurant? Where should I go next?