Eurasia Bistro & Sushi Bar – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In an ideal world, the culinary connotation of the term “Eurasia” would be a fusion of the distinct cuisines of both continents available all under one roof under which culinary adventurers would be like Venetian explorer Marco Polo tasting all the Silk Road has to offer. We should have realized that while the continents of Europe and Asia may be connected as a land mass (certainly not geopolitically), an Albuquerque restaurant featuring the cuisine of both continents is still far too novel a concept.

While Eurasia turned out to be a misnomer, this contemporary Japanese restaurant may turn out to be one of the better, albeit more expensive restaurants launched in 2005. Situated on the site of the now defunct Minato restaurant (closed in October, 2004), Eurasia is, in almost every way, a radical departure its predecessor. Where Minato facilitated dining intimacy (including tatami rooms for private dining), Eurasia features an open dining room painted in a serene pallet. Two ceiling panels on either side of the industrial ductwork showcase the twinkling of the night sky on an ebony canvas (although nothing can compare to the night skies in Northern New Mexico.)

While Eurasia’s menu may be considered traditional, it includes several high-end items (such as Kobe beef) which generally appear only on menus at the very finest Japanese restaurants. Kobe beef is a special grade of beef from spoiled rotten cattle raised in Kobe, Japan. These cattle are hand-massaged with sake and are fed a daily diet Homer Simpson would die for that includes large amounts of beer. The result is meat that is extraordinarily tender, finely marbled, full-flavored and extremely expensive. Eurasia features a Kobe beef tenderloin steak, charbroiled and served with brown mushroom sauce, for $60. An extra rare Kobe beef sashimi, served seared and sliced, is available as an appetizer for the mere pittance of $18.

A less expensive appetizer option is gyoza, Japanese-style dumplings in which minced pork, cabbage and other ingredients are wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough and served with a “spicy gyoza sauce” which isn’t very spicy at all. The only European sounding appetizer is “Ceviche de Eurasia.”

Three different bento box options–chicken teriyaki, beef teriyaki and king salmon teriyaki–are available for lunch. Bento is an all-in-one “lacquered lunch box” with separate compartments for different entrees. As functional as they are, bento boxes are also known for their beautiful presentation of multi-colored entrees of various textures. The star of the beef teriyaki bento is most assuredly the beef which is tender and flavorful even without the teriyaki sauce. The thinly-sliced, lightly-battered and perfectly seasoned tempura vegetables (yams, onions, carrots) with the restaurant’s signature sauce were exceptional, likely the best tempura we’ve had in Albuquerque. An accompanying salad with a pungent ginger dressing and Japanese red rice rounds out the bento box.

If the Nigiri Sushi dinner is any indication, Eurasia’s sushi chefs are obviously well practiced at their craft. Nigiri sushi is made of vinegared rice combined with a raw, cooked or marinated topping or filling of fish, seafood, vegetables, or egg. A combination of mouth-watering nigiri and maki (roll) style sushi will decorate your plate with fish and shrimp of various shapes and hues. Alas, it may take an entire dollop of the restaurant’s insipid wasabi to water your eyes if that’s your inclination.

We enjoyed the Nigiri dinner so much that we also ordered the restaurant’s most expensive maki roll, appropriately named the “Yummy Yummy Big Roll.” This multi-hued creation features shrimp tempura, crab, cucumber, avocado, and kanpyo (dried gourd strips) and is sliced into eight pieces, four of which are covered with Day-Glo colored fish eggs and four which are covered with almost luminous green fish eggs. It truly lived up to its name.

Eurasia is situated near some of the city’s most expensive real estate (Tanoan and High Desert to name but two) and some of us may need to scrimp and save to dine there, but while your wallet will be lighter as a result, you’ll experience an excellent meal.

Eurasia Bistro & Sushi Bar
10721 Montgomery, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM
LATEST VISIT: 26 December 2005
COST: $$$$
BEST BET: Nigiri Sushi; Beef Teriyaki Bento; Yummy Yummy Big Roll

Perennials Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

What most people seem to know about Perennials Restaurant is that it’s owned by the parents of Albuquerque’s own Neil Patrick Harris, a 1991 graduate of La Cueva High School, who at age sixteen, landed the lead role in Doogie Howser, M.D. The television series about a teen prodigy doctor propelled him into teen heartthrob status.

After two visits to Perennials, I’m somewhat surprised that this bright, east-facing restaurant isn’t even better known for the terrific quality of its food. It seems to be especially popular for breakfast among the geriatric set, a demographic my stand-up comedian friend swears have two criteria for selecting a restaurant: tasteless or cheap. He also observes that among the “blue-hairs” as he calls them, women dining with their friends will figure out each person’s share to the penny while elderly gentlemen breaking bread with their friends practically come to blows over who will pay the bill of fare.

I didn’t notice any bill settlement issues at Perennials and contrary to my friend’s theory regarding restaurants heavily patronized by retirees, the food is definitely not tasteless or cheap. Reasonably priced food of high quality and generous portions would be more like it. It’s easy to see why Perennials is popular among sagacious senior citizens (my own advancing geriatric progression will hopefully make me more erudite, too).

Perennials blossomed into existence in October, 2000 in the Fiesta Del Norte Shopping Center. Its focus six days a week has been primarily breakfast and lunch, although it experimented with dinner for several months in 2005. Specialties include Angus hamburgers, homemade soups, salads, New Mexican entrees, grilled sandwiches and some of the most consistently good breakfast entrees in the Duke City.

When Perennials first launched, the menu included items heretofore unseen at any other Albuquerque dining establishment. Our early favorite were the rarebit potatoes, roasted potatoes tossed with sundry ingredients. The Portales Rarebit, for example, featured roast beef, red chile, sautéed onions, shredded cheddar and sour cream. We were disappointed not to see rarebit on the menu and hope the next time we see it won’t be on Gomer Pyle reruns.

You can’t go wrong with good pancakes and Perennials’ are light, fluffy and delicious six-inch orbs. Two can split a short stack and order something additional such as a breakfast burrito (available in a 12″ size or 7″ for smaller appetites). The burrito is generously endowed with scrambled eggs and your choice of ham, bacon or sausage then topped with either red or green chile. The green chile is more akin to a salsa than to the saucy chile typically served on breakfast burritos throughout Albuquerque.

It’s admirable that Perennials doesn’t capitalize on the fame of its most famous family member whose image is conspicuously absent in the pleasant country dining room. That’s probably because the food is attraction enough.

Perennials Restaurant
6601 San Mateo, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM

LATEST VISIT: 8 December 2005
COST: $$
BEST BET: Rarebit, Pancakes, Breakfast Burritos

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