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.
LATEST VISIT: 26 December 2005
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Nigiri Sushi; Beef Teriyaki Bento; Yummy Yummy Big Roll