Tiny, hard-to-spot restaurants are a long-standing tradition in Japan, and Juno, a new westside sushi bistro, can be tricky to find. It's located in the space formerly occupied by Spice Box and tucked between commercial businesses, and its entry faces another building. My companion and I had to search a few minutes for the location—and then the entryway—before finally finding the "front" door. But that only built our excitement; we were in the mood for sushi and savoring the anticipation.
Walking in, some customers might be turned off by the spare decorations and mismatched furniture. Instead, for us they were a harbinger: Like some of the best sushi restaurants in the world, Juno focuses on what matters—the sushi in front of you, not the atmosphere.
And, like other small quality sushi restaurants, Juno only keeps limited supplies on hand; that protocol ensures fresh ingredients, but also creates a catch-what-catchers-can urgency. The hostess warned us the restaurant might run out of fish since two large parties arrived before we did. But our fears were allayed when our quick-place order was sent to the kitchen before those other larger tables. Our waitress explained that the kitchen orders sushi using its best guess of turnout for each night. While this approach worked in our favor, we did see another party leave before sitting when they were informed of the limited choices.
We started simple—with miso soup and cucumber sunonomo. The salad advertised truffle oil; and even though neither of us could pick up the truffle scent or flavor, the salad did have a light, vinegar dressing and was a refreshing appetizer on a warm summer night.
The sushi itself was the highlight: Whereas some sushi restaurants make "kitchen sink" rolls, throwing together all manner of shredded leftovers (figuratively) pulled from the drain, the rolls at Juno are carefully curated, fresh and unique. The Yukata Roll, a generous slab of yellowtail tuna with ginger and scallions wrapped in nori, was delicious, the sharp flavors complementing and melding together in a robust medley. The Spicy Octopus Roll tasted fresh and original with the addition of tangy mango and spunky cilantro. The bedding of the nigiri, a mixture of white and brown rice, was warm, fragrant and assertive with the large servings of fresh hamachi, salmon and albacore. We finished our meal with a rather large portion of black sesame ice cream—an unusual choice, but well worth a try for the nutty, almost smoky, vanilla flavor.
With a reasonably priced sake list and a rotating, creative menu, and with quality food and service at non-tourist prices, Juno certainly joins my list of restaurants to frequent.
133 SW Century Dr #204, Bend, OR 97702
Hours: Monday-Friday 5:30-9pm