Takeout food is normally the back-up meal, the one you get when you’re too lazy to cook a real dinner or when you’re too busy to sit down at a restaurant. It’s the meal you get after an exhausting day at work, or what you squeeze into a short lunch break. It’s normally nothing to celebrate.
But when Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order shut down restaurants for dine-in in mid-March as COVID-19 hit Oregon, takeout became the only option for eating professionally cooked food for Oregonians. Even with some restaurants now open for dine-in, to-go is the safest option during the time of coronavirus.
From top-notch teriyaki chicken and pungent Jamaican jerk chicken to tasteful cheese plates, Eugene’s businesses have all of your takeout needs covered.
Uki Uki chef Michael Zito has never liked cooking to-go food. At restaurants he’s worked at, takeout has always been an afterthought; it’s never anything special.
So before the shutdown, Zito didn’t even serve takeout. He didn’t like the idea of his food languishing in customer’s refrigerators, losing its luster. Yet when the executive order was enacted, Zito had no choice. Since then, he’s been focusing on making food that can shine even from a brown paper takeout box.
Uki Uki normally serves fairly expensive omakase sushi plates, but with the economic downturn and job losses accompanying the pandemic, Zito knew he had to cut prices.
“I’ve been working the last two months on making the food still exciting, but more affordable,” he says.
For example, Uki Uki serves a $10 teriyaki chicken that resembles a soy sauce-based coq au vin. It’s tender and not overly sweet or salty like many teriyaki chicken dishes are. It’s served over rice, with Japanese-style pickled cucumber.
Since the shutdown, Zito has also started serving baked barbecue pork and veggie curry buns. They’re similar to Chinese baozi steamed buns, but they are baked. He says they’re good at room temperature and keep their flavor and texture for a few days in the fridge.
Uki Uki still serves a few sushi rolls, and yellowtail sashimi.
Zito plans on keeping takeout options, even when he does reopen for dine-in. For now, you can order takeout on Uki Uki’s website. They are open 5 to 9 pm on Thursday and 4:30 to 9 pm Friday and Saturday.
Irie Jamaican Kitchen
Irie Jamaican Kitchen opened to add some bold Caribbean flavor to Eugene’s food scene in April. The family-owned food truck was at the Saturday Market last fall and has its regular location outside of Community Supported Shelters on W. 11th Avenue.
Barbara Graham-Adams is from Jamaica and manages the business. Her husband and sons also work at the food truck.
“I’m the Jamaican in the family,” she says. “I get to bring the culture. I can taste the food and tell them when they get the flavor right.”
Graham-Adams says her jerk chicken, which “the boys” make, is one of her most popular dishes. The meat is soaked in a spicy house-made marinade for at least 24 hours. For $9.50, you get a quarter chicken, rice, peas and a side of steamed cabbage.
The food truck also serves a braised oxtail dish with butter beans and spinners for $15.99. Butter beans are also known as lima beans. Spinners are simple unstuffed Jamaican dumplings made with flour.
For vegetarians, Graham-Adams says a good option is the steamed callaloo and ackee dish. Callaloo is a dish made from a leafy Caribbean green. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, a food that she says soaks up flavors around it like a mushroom.
The food truck is open 11 am to 2 pm Monday and Tuesday and will be at the Saturday Market once it opens up again on June 13.
The Broadway Wine Merchants
The Broadway Wine Merchants is a bottle shop and eatery in Oakway center. Owner Angus James shut down the food portion of the business in mid-March to do wine pickups and delivery, but he started serving food again on Mother’s Day.
James’ to-go meals for two, baked goods and cheese plate kits are perfect picnic material, and are made to pair well with wine.
“We’ve always had the marriage between cheese and wine,” he says. “That’s been a big part of our existence at The Broadway.”
James and his sister, the chef, serve a different family meal for two, a breakfast scone and a cheese platter every week. The platter comes with three cheeses, a half-size baguette, house-made sesame quinoa crackers, pink peppercorn taralli crackers, a house made vanilla-rum dried fruit compote, Greek olives and Marcona almonds. It costs $40, and you can add cured meats for an extra $5 each.
The Broadway is doing preorders for now. Menus are sent out Monday, orders are open until Thursday morning and pickup is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm.