To the mix of trendy, upscale businesses at Northgate Centre Marketplace, add a new sushi restaurant with roots in Bend.
Shinsei Sushi opened early this month at 63 Rossanley Drive, Suite C2, just across the parking lot from REI and Trader Joe's.
Dining out with(the Mail Tribune
And like those eagerly awaited entries into the Medford marketplace, this little restaurant, the second for a Bend family of restaurateurs, was packed with fans enthusiastically embracing a new business.
When my husband and I stopped in for lunch on a busy Saturday, we only had to wait a few minutes for a seat at the sushi bar.
Soaring ceilings and exposed air ducts give the small dining room an industrial-chic look. The clever placement of screens and dividers cuts noise and creates two cozy seating areas. The seating areas are so cozy, in fact, that you might need to coordinate with your neighbor when you stand up, so you don't bump elbows or step on toes. (Kudos to the nimble servers who navigate the tight space.)
The menu offers a familiar array of sushi rolls, including favorites such as the California roll and Philly roll with smoked salmon and cream cheese, an extensive selection of crispy, fried rolls, and a lineup of specialty rolls featuring real crab, an interesting mix of other fresh ingredients and lots of special sauces. Many of the rolls bear names of local landmarks such as Crater Lake and Rogue River.
We quickly settled on the Table Rock roll for $10.95. It is stuffed with real crab, avocado and cucumber, then topped with glistening slices of bright salmon and ruby-hued maguro. A drizzle of sticky unagi sauce that perfectly accents grilled eel seems a little sweet for this preparation.
We also ordered an $11.95 combination plate that included five pieces of nigiri — tuna, salmon, yellowtail, escolar, shrimp — and our choice of either a California, tuna, spicy tuna or tempura shrimp roll. While I appreciated the options and particularly enjoy a good spicy tuna roll, we picked the classic California roll. It's the only offering in such combos at many sushi restaurants and perennially popular, even with sushi newcomers.
This version is tasty with a nice mix of textures from avocado and cucumber. Toasted sesame seeds nicely complement the mild sweetness of the imitation crab.
The nigiri was just right, with perfectly cooked rice and ample — but not too large — slices of fresh fish.
People who appreciate options will like Shinsei's bento, which offers the perfect combination of lots of items to mix and match at low prices. Choices include teriyaki chicken or salmon, beef or chicken yakisoba, Korean-style grilled beef yakiniku, spicy chicken or pork, chicken katsu or pork tonkatsu, tempura, a California roll or tempura shrimp roll. Choose two for $9.95 or three for $12.95. Each meal comes with miso soup, steamed rice, house salad and fried gyoza dumplings. Simpler children's bento also is available for $7.95.
Noodles offer even more choices with ramen, udon and pan-fried noodles, each topped with a choice of vegetables, chicken, beef, shrimp or a seafood combination and served mild, medium or spicy.
Shinsei is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 4 to around 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Weekend lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner is from 5 p.m. until business slows, usually around 9 p.m. Look for happy-hour discounts from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Call 541-690-1244 for reservations. Check out the menu at www.shinseimedford.com.
— Anita Burke