Three Forks Wok & Grill
2560 Willamette St
Eugene, OR 97405
(541) 485-8489

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Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5

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Gotta love those hippies. Nature-loving, green, earthy…aren’t they great!? They love nature so much that they have no fear of dirt or bacteria of any kind…and therein lies the problem with Three Forks Wok & Grill.

The concept behind Three Forks is interesting. Sorta like an Asian-y, hippie-ish, fusion of healthy ingredients. Woks, lots of veggies, some grilled stuff for flesh eaters, tofu and tempeh for the hippies…So far, so good, right?

It starts to go a little wrong during the ordering process. Having designed and run restaurants in the past, I can understand how the owners of Three Forks might have been tempted to “guide” the stupid annoying customers a bit in order to make the ordering process quicker and more efficient. Unfortunately, the end result at Three Forks makes you feel like a (hormone-free) cow being led down a narrow pathway to the slaughterhouse. There’s just not any sense that your food is something special. Instead, it feels like an assembly line in a GM car factory:

First you “choose a dish” (Pad Thai, Rice Wok, Grilled Vegetable Salad, Hippie Bowl, or Coconut Curry), then you “pick your vegetables”, “your spices”, “and your garnishes”, “then, pick your grill”. (Don’t pick your nose!)

Now, I know some readers are going to say that they love this assembly line approach for it’s speed, efficiency, flexibility, etc. But it still rubs me the wrong way. Although there would be fewer visually apparent permutations, I think it would be a lot more appetizing for them to preselect different combos and give each some funny or exotic alliterative name. Plus they could also specify that “substitutions are welcome”.

As for the food itself, it’s just ok. It’s reasonably fresh and somewhat tasty, but there’s nothing overly authentic, especially items like Pad Thai. The taste of just about everything is “off” by 15-20%. It could best be described as upscale college-kid food. Or you could also describe it as “nice try but no cigar”. If that’s what you want, then fine, but…

The big problem with Three Forks is that it is simply not clean. Floors, tables, utensils…you name it…they all have a film of hormone-free, organic, cage-free, oily grime. In fact, this is a common problem with just about all of these hippie-ish places in Eugene.

I get it. You guys are hippies, nature lovers, etc. Why should that make you (or me) blind to dirt and grime? Like, hey man, bacteria doesn’t only attack investment bankers, ya know?! It also causes intestinal problems (sickness and death) in hippies…no matter how green or hip or laid-back they may be (the hippies, not the bacteria). So, please, go ahead and follow the hippie lifestyle, or run your business with a cool hippie vibe, but please clean it hourly and/or daily. Use organic honey butter flower wheat soap if you want, but make sure it is clean when you are done. (A few other examples of this same problem in Eugene include Studio One Cafe, The Kiva grocery store, and Sundance Natural Foods).

So, in summary, what we have here is a lifeless assembly line ordering system, 2.5 star “just ok” food, and a 1 star grimy interior. End result: 2 stars.

Update Nov 2010: OK, I dragged myself back to Three Forks for another try…mainly because of the “buy one, get one free” coupon I received recently. Some nice changes and some things stayed the same:

Cleaning: The restaurant is much cleaner than before. I seems to have been renovated or at very least received some intensive cleaning. That’s a big improvement.

Signage: The ordering signage, while still based around the assembly line approach, has been improved. Firstly it’s smaller, so you can capture the information easier. It also seems to have been simplified with fewer choices…or maybe that’s just an improved layout? I don’t know, but it’s much better.

Sanitary conditions: OK, so the restaurant is cleaner, but they still have at least one glaring health issue. The drinking glasses (nice thick ones) are placed mouth downwards on a dish towel next to the soda dispenser. Anyone that has ever taken even a rudimentary restaurant sanitation course will know that this is a recipe for disaster, i.e. bacteria. It doesn’t matter whether the towel is clean or not (in this case, it was not), drinking glasses should never be stored liked this. How can the people who own/run this restaurant make such rookie mistakes??? One wonders what “mysteries” are hidden behind the doors of the kitchen prep area…

Price: Is it just me, or are the servings small and prices high at this place? I ordered a large yakisoba with no grill and found it sorely lacking in voluminousity. My friend ordered a medium fried rice thingy with chicken, and it too was smallish. A large and a medium entree plus two drinks cost us $24 before coupon. Sorry to say, but that pricing is wrong. For what you get and for the size of the entrees and for the style of eating, no way should this go over $16. If the entree sizes were beefed up with more of the base ingredient (noodles and rice in our case), then the price could be raised to $20, but not a penny more.

New Summary: I’ll give it another star since the place is cleaner and the food tasted ok, but I have no intention of going back unless I get another coupon…and even then, I’ll only go if my appetite is limited.

Update Jan 2012: This location of Three Forks is now shut down. They have another location on the north side of Eugene, but you need to drive a big four-wheel drive truck or a Mercedes if you want to go there.

Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5

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