back to school, with new and improved dining options!

Happy first day of school, everyone!  Those of you reading who aren’t from these parts probably think I’m a little late, but we’re on the quarter system at the University of Oregon, so school starts at the end of September.

And just to make things a bit more challenging, tomorrow will rainy and construction is still going on near the university.

But rest assured that if you make it, you’ll be able to eat on campus.

Eugene was recently chosen as one of the ten best college dining towns by a group of people who have not been to very many college towns, evidently.  (Eugene over Berkeley?  Are you kidding me?!)

Anyone who has been stuck on campus on a regular basis and has been to other college towns will protest, I am sure.  True, it’s hard to do much with only a few blocks, and we haven’t even maximized that.  Indeed, we’re trying as hard as we can to make 13th a nightmare with the new which-end-is-up, parallel back-in parking arrangement.   But we do have some new dining options that improve the your post traffic jam/bike accident meal.

Choose from not one but TWO new decent pan-Asian restaurants in the block of 13th Ave. that’s next to campus.

Noodle Head offers Thai, Korean, Japanese and more, but stick with the Thai noodles and rice bowls, since the owner hails from Thailand and it’s clearly her specialty.  I had a passable pad ka prow and good but oily gyoza, and a friend had good drunken noodles. The dishes are cheap as heck and will prove a popular lunch.

Banzai Sushi Bar and Grill isn’t quite as good, but they’ve thankfully thoroughly modernized the old space that held Sakura for years and an Indian buffet for a few short months.  They’ve added a section for traditional seating (on pillows on a tatami mat).  The owners are nice, and it’s their first place, so they’re being extremely conservative and giving us what they think we like, e.g., all those deep-fried multi-fish sushi rolls that I dislike so much.  But there’s promise.  The owners are Korean and Japanese (and hail from Hawaii, so you can get your spam musubi fix at Banzai) so they serve Korean food as well as Japanese.  I opted for a perfectly acceptable tempura udon with two pieces of shrimp thicker than average and some vegetables added to the broth.  The spicy tuna roll was average.  I’d probably choose, on a return visit, the katsu dishes or Korean specialties, including two rather nice-sounding traditional entree-sized salads with spicy sauce, raw fish, and fish eggs.  I’m a fan of cheap, traditional, standard Japanese food, I’ll just say it now, so I’m glad to see a Japanese place in that locale again.

The bad news?  We lost both of the Indian places, situated inexplicably next to each other.  But given what they were like, that’s probably a good thing.

More cheap ethnic food around campus, please!  A Cal-Mex style burrito place that’s not a chain, a Vietnamese pho house, another nice place to take visitors besides Excelsior, and an Ethiopian restaurant would be nice, Santa.

There are also not one but two newish yogurt places, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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