Chef Trent Pierce, whose celebrated seafood restaurant Fin shuttered unceremoniously in February after six months in business, is back with a new project. As long rumored and first reported by the Oregonian, Pierce will team with ChefStable's Kurt Huffman (the restaurateur behind Foster Burger, Gruner, and St. Jack) for a Japanese-influenced spot called Wafuu, next door to the newly opened Sunshine Tavern on SE Division.
"The whole concept started around the idea of ramen, and kind of built out of that," Pierce tells Eater of the 50-seat restaurant, whose name translates loosely to "Japanese-style" in English. But despite the eight taps and Japanese-influenced cocktail list, don't call it an izakaya. "The plate sizes will be small plate-style, but as far as the food itself, I wouldn't say it's bar food," Pierce says. "It'll be a little more complex than that — the flavors will be a little easier to wrap your head around than at Fin, but we'll have ramen, there will be other snack-type stuff... [Wafuu will] keep some of the flair that Fin had, but driven from the Japanese influence."
Wafuu's eight taps will heavily feature "Asian- and Asian-style beers... Out of those eight taps, we'll probably have four staples and four seasonals," Pierce says. "But you'll probably see local stuff, too, like [Rogue Brewing's] Morimoto Soba Ale, that kind of presence will be on there. It won't be all imported booze."
As far as Pierce's temporary stint as brunchmaster at nearby bistro St. Jack, he'll be working Sunday brunch for the next four weeks before tackling the Wafuu project full-time. "I think that part of town, you can't be in a better spot," Pierce says of his move to SE Division. "I feel like that neighborhood is very similar, and even more vibrant, than the way Mississippi started blowing up. The people down there, even within that neighborhood, really enjoy going out and eating." Projected opening for Wafuu: mid-July.
· All Previous Trent Pierce Coverage [Eater PDX]