Restaurant review: Sunny Yoga Kitchen

Bend gets health-conscious food at new a NorthWest Crossing studio

By John Gottberg Anderson / For The Bulletin

Sunny Yoga Kitchen

Location: 2748 N.W. Crossing Drive, Bend

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Price range: Soups and salads $7 and $8, entrees $9 to $12

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: On request

Vegetarian menu: Most dishes are vegetarian

Alcoholic beverages: License for wine and beer has been applied for.

Outdoor seating: Sidewalk tables

Reservations: No

Contact: 541-678-3139, www.sunnyyogakitchen.com

Scorecard

Overall: A-

Food: B+. More hits than misses: Salads are great, and some dishes just need tweaking.

Service: A. Order at the counter in this tiny cafe and your meal will be delivered to your table.

Atmosphere: B+. It’s not fancy, but the handsome yoga studio in back lends a pleasant vibe.

Value: A. Nothing on the menu is priced over $12, and healthy juices are just $5.

When former college athletes Courtney Hynum and Amy Wright moved to Bend last summer, they did so with the thought of bringing together their two passions — good food and yoga.

It took about eight months, but with the Valentine’s Day opening of the Sunny Yoga Kitchen in NorthWest Crossing, they achieved their goal.

Many yoga enthusiasts have already discovered Sunny Yoga. Hynum herself teaches most of the 13 classes a week in the vinyasa and yin styles. A spacious studio with a wood-laminate floor, surrounded by abstract acrylic art by Lisa Marie Sipe and watched over by a small Buddha image on an altar, is the venue.

Morning yoga classes are over by 10:45 a.m., and lunch service begins at 11. Although most dishes are prepared in a convection oven, the food is excellent. Diners who expect an intractably vegan cafe will be surprised. There are vegan and gluten-free choices, to be sure — but Sunny Yoga can also satisfy carnivores with dishes like roasted chicken and Burmese pork.

“We’ve spent a long time in both yoga and food,” said Hynum, noting that their immediately preceding restaurant experience was at top-end Portland restaurants, including Vitaly Paley’s Imperial and Jenn Louis’ Lincoln. “We learned a lot about service and the use of ingredients in cooking,” she said. “Simple food can still be good food.”

Great salads

Wright does most of the cooking here, while Hynum handles front-of-house duties. My dining companion and I began lunch at Sunny Yoga with a pair of salads. Both of them were absolutely terrific.

Shinji’s salad ($8) may have been misnamed: It was actually a slaw of white and red cabbage. But it combined red bell peppers and arugula leaves sprinkled with white sesame seeds, and was finished with creamy sesame vinaigrette.

It was so good that my companion ordered it again on our next visit, and was once again impressed.

The arugula salad ($8) sometimes is tossed with baby spinach, but not so on our recent visit. Instead, the peppery leaves were mixed with kale and herbs, along with thinly sliced red onions, chopped dates and pistachios, Greek mizithra cheese and apple-cider vinaigrette. This salad was also delicious.

My friend’s falafel ($9) was good, but it didn’t stand up to that of local Middle Eastern restaurants. The pureed and deep-fried chickpeas, served with slices of pita bread, needed more texture. A serving of pineapple sauce might have been spicier; the yogurt-based tzatziki was a better accompaniment. Onion and arugula completed the plate.

My Burmese pork ($12), caramelized with ginger and garlic, had a barbecued flavor. It was offered up on a bed of white rice with spicy sambal and sesame seeds, and topped with a sunny-side-up egg, cooked medium.

My companion had a glass of kombucha ($4) with her meal. Feeling adventurous, I ordered beet juice ($5). Its rooty flavor boosted by turnip and radish, along with ginger and cucumber, I decided it must be an acquired taste.

Unique dishes

Returning a few days later for dinner, when my companion ordered another Shinji’s, I opted for the soup of the day ($7). On this occasion, it was a flavorful asparagus soup made with a vegetable broth. I loved the lightly toasted honeyed-oat sourdough bread that accompanied, but felt the soup was a little one-dimensional — until I mixed in the arugula served on the side. That peppery flavor was just what it needed.

My main course was a roasted-chicken special ($12). The shredded poultry was served with cannellini beans, chopped asparagus and basil on a bed of white rice. While I enjoyed the dish, I think I would have enjoyed it better with the nuttiness of brown rice.

My friend ordered another special, a muffuletta crepe ($10). Like the traditional muffuletta sandwich introduced to New Orleans by Sicilian immigrants, it features layers of olive tapenade, salami, ham and provolone cheese — but in this case, instead of being sandwiched in focaccia, it is cooked into a flour pancake. It was delicious.

Sunny Yoga offers several unique sweets, including a chocolate-avocado mousse ($3) with a creamy cocoa flavor. It’s blended with honey, almond milk and vanilla extract. I’m not a big chocolate eater, but I liked this a lot.

I also enjoyed Moroccan jewels ($3), which are halved Medjool dates filled with mascarpone cheese, pistachios and honey, and served with mandarin orange slices.

Sunny Yoga seats about 18 diners indoors; sidewalk tables accommodate a few more. There are no reservations, so diners should be prepared to wait for a table: It’s worth it.

— Reporter: janderson@bendbulletin.com

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