After many months of anticipation, I finally had the chance to stop by Turner Place at Lavery Hall and sit down for a meal. I chose Origami, the Japanese steakhouse on the second floor. The restaurant is equipped with four teppanyaki grills, which are gigantic iron griddles suited to cook for tables of 10 around each station.
The restaurant’s decor is bright and modern, touting a clean stainless steel interior. Despite the first week’s rush, the floor was quiet and separated from the bustle of the crowded dining hall.
The menu is simple. The restaurant offers three options for the main dish: beef, chicken or shrimp. Each meal comes with miso soup, fried rice and mixed vegetables. The menu also features green tea gelato for dessert, but unfortunately it was unavailable when I visited. I opted for the beef entree.
As we were seated, our waitress brought out the miso soup — a satisfying appetizer after the long wait. The savory miso soup was well balanced with a garnish of green onion and tofu. The miso flavor was not overpowering or too concentrated, but clean and subtle.
Once everyone had finished the first course, the dishes were gathered up as our cook was busy setting up his station. We were greeted with a smile and the typical, “How’s everybody doing?” After reviewing everyone’s orders, he proceeded to heat up the enormous grill.
First onto the grill were the vegetables and rice. They were quickly fried and seasoned lightly with ginger, soy sauce and green onions — typical Japanese flavorings. While working on the food, our cook facilitated small talk amongst the table even though we were not a particularly talkative group. Throughout the meal he chimed in to conversations, without being too assertive or overbearing.
Accompanied by the fried rice and mixed vegetables, the beef was an excellent main course. It was tender and flavorful, finished in a garlic tomato sauce. The richness of the beef was complimented well with the lighter flavors of the fried rice and fresh vegetables. The full meal was well balanced and satisfying. Our cook cleaned the grill and hurried off to prepare for his next table, leaving us to finish our meals.
On a separate date, I had a chance to try the sushi bar. With its limited hours and bar seating, it was difficult to get a seat without waiting for up to an hour. After surveying the menu, I decided on the Turner Roll and the Tuna Nagiri. The tuna was fresh and presented neatly — a clean, light plate well suited for the summer time. While I enjoyed the Nagiri, the Turner roll was the main attraction. The scallop sushi roll with scallions was complimented wonderfully by a tangy sauce.
Despite the long wait and the crowd of students, I thoroughly enjoyed my first meals at Turner Place. Origami has a quiet feel to i, which is a nice change from the hectic eateries in West End and Owens dining hall. With the sushi bar and reserved seating, the restaurant has a unique set of offerings not available elsewhere on campus. Origami does a proper rendition of the Japanese steakhouse and lives up to the hype of Turner Place.