When Trent Pierce's innovative seafood spot Fin abruptly shuttered earlier this year after six months in business, it wasn't much of a surprise that Kurt Huffman, of culinary powerhouse ChefStable, would snap him up immediately. Somewhat surprisingly, Pierce's Fin follow-up focuses less on seafood and more on "Japanese style" cooking: Wafu, which makes its hotly anticipated debut tonight, takes on the concept of the ramen house (think huge bowls of chicken schmaltz or veggie ramen with house-made noodles, complete with a list of possible add-ons), but adds a Fin-like, sophisticated collection of small and medium-sized plates, all meant for sharing.
On the small plate side, Pierce carries over two of Fin's top-sellers: the tuna carpaccio and a mahi mahi ceviche with Chinese sausage. Other options include a roasted crab roll (essentially a bruleed crab stuffed inside a soy paper roll); onigiri with grilled prawn, bacon, tomato, and soy mayo rolled in shaved bonito; and tempura rock shrimp tossed with a wasabi mayo, served with daikon salad. "Larger" items see a play on oyako don (with duck, poached egg, blackberry, pickled cucumbers); BBQ octopus served with daikon; and noodles tossed with clams, bacons and miso butter. As with Fin's original concept, there's a separate menu for vegetables, like daikon served with miso-mushroom ragu and miso-creamed kale served over rice.
Wafu's planned hours of operation: 5pm-midnight, Tuesday-Sunday, and in September, Pierce hopes to start a more raw-influenced series of Namu dinners, which will feature dinner in private setting with a sushi chef. Wafu makes things official and swings its doors open tonight, at 5pm.
· Wafu [Official site]
· All Previous Wafu Coverage [Eater PDX]