In Central Oregon, we are beyond spoiled with all the bright and vibrant flavors that our local restaurants have to offer. It is my personal opinion that some of the best of those gems are globally inspired restaurants, specifically those with an Eastern flair. From killer Drunken Noodles at Noi to the famous take on Fried Chicken from Spork, the following roundup is an overview of the amazing dishes that celebrate Asian flavors in a fresh and innovative way. Shall we begin?
Ask any Bend local what their favorite restaurants are, and I have a feeling that most of them would mention this hip and delicious spot. Originating as a humble food truck years ago, Spork has evolved into a full-fledged restaurant located on Bend’s Westside. All the food is delightful, but my favorite dishes include the Spicy Fried Chicken, which features rice flour battered boneless fried chicken, spicy sweet sambal chili sauce, green onion, toasted sesame, and jasmine rice, with your choice of cucumber salad or kimchi on the side (or half and half, to enjoy both killer sides). Another beloved dish to check out at Spork is none other than the Rice Bowl, a dish comprised of your choice of shredded pork, shredded chicken or fried organic tofu atop palm sugar peanuts, a sweet soy reduction, green onion and jasmine rice, with the same side options as the Spicy Fried Chicken. The seasonal specials are also phenomenal (I’m looking at you, Dan Dan noodles).
937 NW Newport Ave
Photo courtesy of Noi Thai
Next stop: Thailand, by way of Noi Thai in Downtown Bend. Originating in Seattle, Noi Thai is a restaurant that prides itself on bringing the best flavors and dishes of Thailand to your table, with dishes traditional to Thailand prepared in an authentic and vibrant way. Some of the menu items not to be missed include the Khi Mao Noodles, featuring stir-fried wide rice noodles mixed with egg, fresh basil, bell peppers, broccoli, bamboo shoots and tomatoes, with your choice of chicken, pork, beef or tofu. Also, the spicy but delectable Green Curry is a homerun, prepared with green chilies, Kaffir lime peel, and palm sugar, simmered along with coconut milk, eggplant, basil, bell pepper, and of course, your choice of chicken, pork, beef, or tofu. All curries on the menu come with a choice of coconut Jasmine rice or brown rice. And while I’m all for healthy choices, you simply cannot pass up the coconut Jasmine rice. It is quite possibly the most delicious rice I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, marrying the sweet creaminess of the coconut milk with the tender Jasmine rice.
550 NW Franklin Ave
Photo: Pho Viet and Café/Facebook
Just when we thought Bend had all the culinary options we could hope for, Pho Viet and Café came along and gave us even more tastiness. Run by Tan and his family, this restaurant cranks out some of the best Vietnamese food in the Pacific Northwest. The pho, a widely popular broth and noodle-based soup, is served in a myriad of ways, with some including chicken, beef or shrimp, and others catering to the more Bourdain-style eaters, with eccentric ingredients such as beef meatballs and tendons. Not into soup? Not to worry. The Pad Thai is some of the best in Bend, with stir-fried rice noodles, green onion, crushed roasted peanuts and bean sprouts in a secret house Pad Thai sauce. This spot will have you craving Vietnamese all the day long, but who says that’s a bad thing?
1326 NE 3rd St
Photo: Chi Chinese & Sushi Bar/Facebook
Located just outside of the main downtown area, Chi Chinese has a killer patio and great food for sushi lovers and Chinese food enthusiasts alike. Also, for those who appreciate a great happy hour, you’re in luck. With most small plates priced at only $5 during happy hour, you’re able to sample more awesome dishes without devastating your bank account. Need a little direction? Try out the Sunset Roll, which boasts shrimp tempura, cucumber and avocado, topped with salmon, tuna, spicy crab, daikon radish yuzu tobiko and green onions. Additionally, you can’t miss the Rainbow Roll, featuring crab, cucumber, and avocado, topped with salmon, tuna, ebi, Hamachi, avocado, and escolar.
70 NW Newport Ave