Chef Bupar acquired her culinary prowess alongside her mother, who operated a street-side café in Bangkok for more than 20 years. Today, she draws on recipes she learned from her mother to conjure up the bustling, spice-tinged air of the city of her youth. The traditional Thai flavors of ginger, lemongrass, and garlic flood dishes and thick coconut milk helps lower the potency of red chilies in a range of curries to a pleasant warmth. Beneath the eatery’s saffron-hued walls and decorative greenery, bouquets of basil, cilantro, and fresh sprouts bestow portions of noodles and rice with textural variety.
Diners can sit outdoors if the weather and 80-foot sentient dragon statue permits, or enjoy after-dinner entertainment at the nearby Matthew Knight Arena. Downstairs in The Underground Lounge, diners can feast on the main restaurant’s full menu in a more casual atmosphere adorned with pool tables, HDTVs, and dartboards.
Maru Asian Tapas Bar and Lounge melds the cuisines of Korea, Japan, and China on its menu of hot and cold tapas and housemade sodas. Small-plate dishes include seared Cajun tuna tacos and fried calamari, and other menu offerings range from Japanese sushi rolls and bento boxes to Korean bibimbap and spicy barbecue pork.
Good Times neighborhood pub hums with lively chatter and upbeat music from the early morning until late at night, attracting and catering to all types of crowds. Bartenders craft mixed drinks and dish out drafts from the bar's selection of 32 microbrews, domestics, and imports on tap. Servers dodge wayward pool sticks as they seek out tables, juggling trays of specialty burgers, crispy nachos, and?during weekend breakfast hours?giant stacks of crispy hash browns.
The atmosphere is equally energetic out on the outdoor patio, a covered terrace that reporters from Eugene Weekly described as "huge" and "pool bedecked". Here, customers perch on tall black chairs, their faces illuminated by glowing heat lamps and TVs broadcasting live sporting events or breaking news from the trusted source of Sesame Street.
Pier Sushi's expert sushi chef coils up 23 specialty rolls and an assemblage of Asian entrees, festooning plates with artistic arrays. With no MSG, masago, peanuts, or peanut oil in any of its platters, Pier's menu offerings draw instead upon sesame and soybean oils. Sake and Japanese beers complement meals, cooling down throats more effectively than bowties sculpted from ice.
Behind the sushi bar at Sushi Seoul, an ocean of fresh seafood acts as an artistic medium. Skilled chefs fold neat slices of freshwater eel, plump morsels of Dungeness crab, and colorful clusters of salmon roe into specialty rolls topped with dashes of color—crisp green onions, sweet mango, creamy avocado. And to highlight how much their finished works resemble edible art, they eschew lackluster names such as “Roll #2” or “Biology Homework” in favor of appropriately poetic titles such as “Red Moon” and “Rising Sun.”
Out of the spotlight, specialty chefs do something similar with the Japanese and Korean entrees they whip up in the kitchen. Five kinds of ramen simmer with cuts of tender pork or sprigs of scallions while pans flash-fry mushrooms and black tiger prawn tempura. What results are plates as pleasing to the eye as they are to the tongue. But to keep them from bearing the responsibility of the meal alone, they pair expertly with draft brews, fruity bubble teas, and bites of mochi—a sweet, traditional treat that has the soft consistency of a marshmallow or an incredibly ineffective bank vault.
Friendly servers at J's Teriyaki and Pub, reinvigorated by new management, top tables with a roster of stir-fried, simmered, and hand-rolled entrees. Steamed rice and a side of salad accompany the spicy beef teriyaki ($8.45), and a serving of soba noodles ensnares a choice of meat or veggies in its starchy tendrils ($6.55–$7.95). Chopsticks clamp onto cross sections of the chicken-teriyaki roll, filled with its namesake poultry and asparagus ($5.95), or the tiger roll with crabmeat, avocado, and a crown of shrimp to grant it sovereignty over all neighboring dishware ($7.95). The menu's color photographs and a blackboard hawking specials help diners decide on which dish to invite to dinner.