The corner of Newport Avenue and the Deschutes River has come a long way since the days of Boondocks, the long gone but not entirely forgotten nightclub. After several attempts as a bar and music venue, the space next to the river has finally come into its own—as a classy restaurant, Chi Chinese and Sushi Bar, which brings a unique concept to Bend, a robust menu offering a balance of sushi and Chinese fare.
Owner Di Long grew up in the Chinese restaurant business (her family owns Szechuan Restaurant), but she took a different route as an adult, specifically to The International School of Baking, where she studied European baking styles. From there, Di Long opened La Magie Bakery in downtown Bend, where she's been making everything from scratch since 2011. Recently, Di Long recognized the lack of Chinese food offerings on Bend's westside and created Chi Chinese and Sushi Bar.
Walking into Chi, the first realization is that it is a drastic shift in the atmosphere and energy from the businesses that formerly resided in the space. It feels fresh, relaxing, and comfortable. The space is open and filled with natural lighting. There are booths, seating at the bar, tables alongside the garage doors that open to the deck, and seating on the deck itself. We opted for the deck, where the evening temperature was perfect and the calming burble of the river hushed other background noise.
Chi's happy hour is from 4 to 6 pm every day of the week except Monday, and after a long day, the pineapple mojito practically leapt off the menu. Made with muddled mint, fresh squeezed lime juice, rum, grilled pineapple, and a splash of soda, this drink is the definition of refreshment. Happy hour could easily turn into happy hours.
Drinks in hand, we scoured the menu, analyzed options and settled on a mix of sushi rolls and Chinese classics: spicy tuna roll, omega-3 roll (made with salmon), potstickers, vegetarian egg roll, and kung pao chicken. The sushi rolls came out first, in an incredible presentation—so impressive, in fact, that the food had to be photographed before it was consumed. The photos didn't do it justice, and the rolls tasted as good as they looked. The Chinese dishes followed, equally as impressive, and served as small plates with exactly the right amount to share.
The amount of food was just right for two hungry people, but who can resist further indulgence when sipping a mojito on a deck and listening to the river? This time, the macaroon ice cream sandwich was calling, and actually, three mini ice cream sandwiches arrived (made from scratch by Di Long): roasted strawberry, dulce de leche, and lingonberry. Each one offered an explosion of flavors and none stood above the others. The dulce de leche was rich and creamy, lingonberry was tart, and the roasted strawberry tasted like it somehow held all the strawberries in the world in that one little macaroon. Unbelievable.
Chi Chinese and Sushi Bar offers something new to Bendites seeking something different: a balance of dynamic flavors and a peaceful setting in which to enjoy them.
Chi Chinese & Sushi Bar
70 NW Newport Ave.
Tuesday-Sunday, 4-9 pm. Opening for lunch later this summer.