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Top Chef Happy to Call Central Oregon Home

Sushi probably isn’t the first thing you think of eating when you visit the High Desert, but here’s why it should be. Joe Kim, the executive chef and co-owner of 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar in downtown Bend has been nominated not once, but twice for a James Beard Award. On any given night, you can watch him prepare your food.

“There’s a lot of chefs that will just create the dishes and show their chefs how to do them and then just watch them go out,” said Kim. “For me, I can’t really do that. I love to be hands on and in the kitchen, in the sushi bar with those other cooks.”

Kim grew up in La Pine, a small town just 30 miles south of Bend, but he’s been all over the world.

“Traveling is a big part of my cooking, seeing what other chefs are doing in other countries, experiencing the little things like  street food just taking those flavors and bringing some of them back,” said Kim. “Or taking something from an amazing French chef and making it more approachable.”

5 Fusion & Sushi Bar

He admits, he does like to take people outside their comfort zones when it comes to food, but 5 Fusion has plenty of non-sushi options too.

“We serve a New York strip that’s a Waygu steak from Australia, we have our King Salmon, we have a lot of food that’s very approachable for someone who maybe isn’t as adventurous of an eater”.

If you’re willing to try just about anything, order Chef Kim’s tasting menu, it’ll be an experience you won’t forget.

“You’re going to try some of the sushi, you’re going to try some of the hot food, a duck dish, or a cooked fished dish, some raw fish, and it really allows you to just try a little bit of everything.” said Kim. “That’s what I love to do when I go out, I see a menu and I see 10 things on there I want to try but you can’t always do that in one.”

5 Fusion in Bend, Oregon

5 Fusion even has something for craft beer lovers.“You know, we’ll make sauces out of the beer, we’ve done events with Deschutes Brewery where we’ll take the wort which is the beer before it becomes beer and make reductions to put over the sushi.” said Kim. “The beer-brined smoked salmon is kind of our biggest beer focus.”

While Kim’s James Beard Award nominations for ‘Best Chef in the Northwest’ may have changed wait times at the restaurant…they  haven’’t altered his desire to live and work in Central Oregon.

“I really feel like we could move this restaurant to New York, San Francisco or Chicago and run almost the exact same menu and it would be successful there as well.” said Kim. “But I get to live in a place where there’s little to no traffic, it’s a clean beautiful city, just the quality of life in Central Oregon is great.”

Mackenzie Ballard
Mackenzie Ballard
Mackenzie Ballard is the Director of Marketing for Visit Central Oregon.