High-end sushi chef imparts flavor and surprises throughout an artfully crafted menu.
Proof of Philadelphia’s expanding foodservice excellence in its suburbs is proffered by Bluefin restaurant in unassuming East Norriton, PA. The restaurant serves contemporary Japanese cuisine with innovative, modern interpretations of classic menu items. For more than 20 years, owner and master chef Yong Kim has served up the best sushi, sashimi, maki and other creations of his own.
Yong’s 95-seat restaurant is an elegant and modern space with an energetic atmosphere powered by the sushi bar. The open space enthralls diners with views of sushi masters at work. “Most of our dishes are based on Japanese flavor but with a twist,” says Yong. “I got into sushi through a mentor who inspired me. My love and passion for the artistry of this cuisine developed over the yea
Source Of Inspiration
Chef Yong sources 100 percent of his produce himself at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM). “I shop the market about three times a week and spend about $1,000 per week on produce,” he says.
Yong values the experience and relationships he gains from shopping PWPM personally. “It’s fun, and I love it,” he says. “No one has to tell me this or that is on special, I see it myself. It inspires me to make a new dish or do something different. Pricing is also advantageous. Often, I can buy something a little cheaper than others using distributors.”
Quality is the No. 1 criteria for Yong’s sourcing. “I buy a lot of fruit. and I sample everything before I buy,” he says. “I make sure I get the flavor I’m looking for instead of being surprised by what is delivered.”
Yong also enjoys finding unique ingredients on the market. “One of the best things about the produce business is there are still thousands of items I don’t know about,” he says. “I’m amazed with all the unique products. For example, I love to use yellow dragon fruit on my plate to surprise my guests.”
Yong is constantly on the lookout for something to add flair and taste to his menu. “Dan Vena (of John Vena Inc.) once gave me a horned melon,” he says. “It’s like a cucumber-ish, melony blend. I used it to make a cucumber, horned melon and king crab salad. It was amazing.”
An Integral Part
Though sushi conjures up images of fish, every plate Yong serves has a significant produce contribution. “About 25 to 30 percent of my entire menu is produce,” he says. “Every plate I have incorporates some type of produce.”
The menu starts with cooked small dishes highlighting a variety of produce items including Edamame, Gyoza (pan fried vegetable dumplings), Miso Baked Eggplant, and a Lobster Spring Roll pairing lobster with garlic-Portobello mushrooms and mango salsa.
The orders of sashimi are artistically presented on a single plate garnished with a Colombian Goldenberry, radish shavings, edible flowers and leafy greens.
The restaurant boasts a selection of close to 30 Maki rolls, some named after regular customers and most featuring produce — especially avocado and cucumber. The King Crab, Avocado Bikini roll is blanketed in mango salsa. The Tropic Roll features shrimp and mango with spicy tuna and micro cilantro on top. The Davitch roll pairs salmon and crunchy spicy tuna with a spicy sauce, tempura chips and scallions. The Boston Spider Roll fuses soft shell crab tempura with Boston lettuce, cucumber and light Japanese mayo.
For dessert, the restaurant serves decadent homemade ice cream with fresh fruit. But the pièce de résistance of the meal is a fresh fruit plate served right before the ice cream desserts are brought out — a conversation-sparking palette of unique California funny-shaped grapes, sweet pineapple, juicy Canary melon, luscious golden kiwi slices and perfectly ripe watermelon and cherries.
2820 Dekalb Pike
East Norriton, PA 19401
Hours: Friday 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., 5 p.m.–10 p.m.; Saturday 5 p.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday 5 p.m.–9 p.m.; Monday closed; Tuesday 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., 5 p.m.–9 p.m.; Wednesday 11:30 a.m. –2 p.m., 5 p.m.–9 p.m.; Thursday 11:30 a.m. –2 p.m., 5 p.m.–9 p.m.