New sushi bar opening at PSU

    Years of development are coming to an end at the Broadway Housing Building, as Blue Fin Sushi will fill the last vacant storefront on the first floor by the end of the year.

    Primarily a full sushi bar with an automated sushi conveyer belt, the restaurant will offer other traditional Asian foods, beer, and wine. While no official opening date has yet been announced, marquees have been hung in front of the store and Portland State officials say that construction is winding down.

    ”The heavy construction is done,” said Dee Wendler, Portland State’s associate vice president for finance and controller for finance and administration. “The space was always intended to be a restaurant and it’s almost ready for move in.”

    Wendler said that the restaurant is expected to be very complementary to the dining on campus.

    ”There’s already a few other restaurants in the Broadway and a sushi bar will fit nicely among the mix of tenants in that building,” Wendler said.

     With the exception of the Sodexho-operated kitchen in Smith Memorial Student Union, Blue Fin will be the first restaurant within the campus blocks to offer sushi. It will be the first with a full sushi bar and the restaurant owner, Hae Sook, has applied for a liquor license that would allow for the sale of beer and wine.

    The retail spaces of the first floor of the Broadway Building are a bit different from other university buildings because the PSU Foundation runs them. The PSU Foundation is Portland State’s money-raising branch that looks for donations from alumni, special interest groups and other private donors.

    ”The restaurant is expected to be open by the end of 2006,”said Philip Varnum, chief financial officer to the PSU Foundation and chair of the Management Committee of the Broadway Building. “The only steps left are on the owner’s end, moving in the actual effects of the restaurant. All of the permit obligations for the Blue Fin have been fulfilled, and it’s just a matter of time before the doors will be open to the public.”

    The owner of the restaurant, Sook, was unavailable for comment.

    Varnum said that the layout of the restaurant will feature an automated belt for carrying sushi, and the bulk of the seating will be situated around the belt. As for the presentation of the restaurant, Varnum said it should be a bit more refined than the fast-food nature of the nearby competition.

    Sushi and other dishes will also be available for order through the service staff. The Blue Fin is expected to have top-notch service, a feature some students say other nearby restaurants lack.

    ”The Jasmine Tree and Baan-Thai are great, but their service just sucks,” said San Saechow, 25, a resident in the Broadway. “I love sushi and Asian cuisine, so if there’s going to be a restaurant that’s close and has decent service, I’ll definitely go there a lot.”

    Varnum said the nice appearance of the restaurant might make some people worry that it will be too expensive.

    ”The Blue Fin will be something of an upscale restaurant,” Varnum said. “It’s definitely not going to be a student dive, anyhow. The ambiance isn’t intended to raise prices and the sushi dishes will be moderately priced to meet the needs of college students.”

    ”I’m hoping for something in the range of a couple bucks a plate,” Saechow said, “because otherwise I won’t be able to go very often.”

    Like the time of the restaurant’s opening, the cost of the food has not yet been released. Varnum said that Sook’s experience should help the Blue Fin do well. Sook has been involved with other restaurants before, and given the success of Oregon’s sushi market, it seems that his new idea cannot go wrong, Varnum said.

    The nearest sushi options are a fair distance from campus, the farthest being Restaurant Murata at Southwest Third and Market, Todai’s Seafood Buffet at Southwest Fifth and Morrison, and Gaya Gaya Sushi on West Burnside and Southwest 19th. Blue Fin is expected to find success, given the close proximity and a good balance of quality and cost.

    ”Sook has operated restaurants on the East Coast before,” Varnum said, “but those restaurants aren’t connected to this one. This will be his debut in Portland and I think we’re all expecting good things to come.”