Taste Authentic Meals of the World Here in Eau Claire
By Ryan Baker, Heidi Becker, Jenna Weber
If you think Eau Claire is limited to Fazoli’s and a Chinese buffet when it comes to eating international food, then think again. We came across three authentic restaurants, not too far from your front door.
The Olympic Flame
2920 London Road
At first sight, Olympic Flame looks like a quaint imitation of a restaurant located in Athens, Greece with the impression solidified by the friendly Greek owner with a thick accent. Then you stumble upon the menu display board. Five options are listed above: Gyro, Greek Salad, Spinach and Cheese pie, Hamburger, Cheeseburger. But along with these choices, we discovered other meal options including Chicken and Fish Sandwiches.
The authentic Greek meals proved themselves delightful. The gyro, drenched in a cucumber sauce, embodied the Greek authenticity. The pita, served with the gyro dinner, was superior to other types of pita we had from other restaurant gyros. The meal was served with a small Greek salad made of romaine lettuce, Kalamata olives, Feta cheese and traditional Greek dressing with a distinct olive oil flavor. The owners definitely know how to make great food. But our criticism is that they need more variety.
Meal prices are extremely reasonable, with no dish costing more than $8.00. The service could be compared to that of Culvers. Customers are expected to order at the counter and then seat themselves as they wait for their food to be served. The ambiance of the restaurant may be likened to a modest authentic Greek feel. The Greek music playing in the background made the restaurant seem more festive and upbeat than the lighting gives. Overall, The Olympic Flame is a must for those in search of a great Gyro at a cheap price.
Tacos Juanita Mexican Restaurant
2823 East Hamilton Ave
It would be easy to drive right by the simplistic storefront of Tacos Juanita since it is located at the end of a strip mall. You would never realize that you had missed it. However, upon entering this small restaurant, you soon find yourself transported south of the border. Everything from the atmosphere to the menu, is authentic. Here, very little has been “Midwesternized.”
The interior is simple with enough room for tables in the middle of the room and booths along the walls. The friendly servers make the small atmosphere feel very personable and welcoming, with authentic music playing throughout.
Tacos Juanita specializes in tacos, tostadas, chimichangas, tortas, quesadillas, and burritos. Most of these can be ordered with meats that include shredded beef, carnitas (slow-cooked marinated pork), adobada (pork simmered in orange juice, vinegar, garlic, and chiles), asada (marinated grilled steak), sautéed shrimp, battered fish, grilled chicken, lengua (braised beef tongue), and chorizo sausage. The restaurant does not use ground beef as it is not used in traditional Mexican cooking. Fortunately, a restaurant like this will cater to each customer’s food preferences including how hot or how mild they wish to have their meal.
Among the three of us, we had the Burrito Plate Combo, the Milenesa Torta Plate (Special of the Day), and the Mexican Tacos. These items can become completely customized through your preferences of shells, meat, and vast garnishes. A few of the sides include rice, beans, guacamole, and Pico de Gallo. Due to the large quantities, we soon found that even dividing the food up, we became very full.
Surprisingly, there are no Margaritas. All alcoholic beverages are Mexican beers ranging from Corona to Negra Modelo. Horchata and Jaimaica are their specialty flavors. The drink menu also includes imported Mexican soda with flavors such as Tamarindo and Guava.
Tacos Juanita is most likely not the best place for your first date or business meeting. However, if you are looking for a casual, reasonably priced dining experience at an authentic Mexican restaurant that is sure to fill you up, then look no further.
Tokyo Japanese Restaurant
2426 London Road
Walk through the door at Tokyo Japanese and you see authentic Japanese fare right at your table. This restaurant offers an entertaining dining experience with food prepared by skilled Teppanyaki chefs who truly enjoy their art. Our chef was very knowledgeable about the ingredients and has been there for approximately 20 years, only a year or so before the restaurant first opened.
Tokyo chefs cook up a storm before your eyes. Fresh zucchini and onions are thrown in for good measure, as well as an abundance of alluring spices. Within our group, we had the hibachi chicken, teriyaki cod, steak, and shrimp and scallop combos. Meals include fried or white rice steamed with your choice of steak, chicken, fish, or seafood.
We enjoyed a couple of cocktails such as the Midori melon margarita and the Buddha punch and we were also impressed with Tokyo's beer selection. The soup laced with delicate flavors—a hint of spices including cilantro, onions, and eggs. Make sure to try the mustard and ginger sauces as well.
Dessert included fabulous homemade ice creams. The Green tea ice cream sounded rather interesting, but we chose the Red bean ice cream. It literally tasted like a bowl of fruity sherbet ice cream. The prices here are moderate to high. with the average ranging from $15.00 - $17.00. However, prices do include soup, salad, entrée, and tea.
Along with the cooking performance, Tokyo is a good place to enjoy conversation when seated in a C-shape table around the hibachi. The hosts, dressed in traditional Japanese attire, ask everyone to introduce themselves, creating a social atmosphere.
While not necssary, reservations are recommended as staff have to work to fill a table with guests before the chef comes by to prepare the meal. Traditional dining is available during lunch hours. While the location of the restaurant is in a smaller, older-looking strip mall, the interior is quite nice and reflects the culture. If you have a handful of friends and some money to spend, make a reservation for Tokyo Japanese. It is worth it.
Eau Claire does have a selection of authenticity, whether you are searching for a great Gyro at a cheap price or you and some friends are looking for a Teppanyaki style experience. There is no doubt why people rave about these restaurants. But they have much more to share than this, that we would like you to explore them for yourself.
From left to right: Ryan Baker is a senior management major from St. Cloud, Min; Heidi Becker is a senior management major from Turtle Lake, Wis; Jenna Weber is a senior marketing major from Antigo, Wis. They wrote this article for their BCOM Advanced Writing class.