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August 29th, 2001 Caryn B. Brooks | z-Miss Dish
 

Sushi After Hours

     
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IMAGE: basil childers
GENTLE READERS,
It sounds almost too good to be true: luscious sushi served strictly in the later evening hours, when every other purveyor in this wicked little town has gone beddy-bye. Bring your hungry, your drunk, your just-off-the-clockers, your sweat-soaked concertgoers and clubbers. Bring them to Ah-So, a newish meal dealer at 720 SE Hawthorne Blvd., between 8 pm and 4 am, and they will be sated.*

So who's the genius who thunk this up? A man named Shawn Sonnenschein (sounds like "sun 'n' shine"--yes, Miss Dish knows it sounds like a fake name, but he claims it's the real thing), who says the idea came to him from the deepest well of despair.

Last year, Sonnenschein ran a tanning salon called Sun Asylum at the same location (you'll notice the Sun Asylum sign is still up--for now). According to Sonnenschein, the business just didn't take off. "I went through the toughest year of my life--I just went through hell," he says. The business was tanking, and he and his former fiancée, who also happened to be his business partner, also crashed and burned. It wasn't pretty. "Then one day I took out my tools and started rebuilding," he says. Friends offered money to help seed the new venture, and two months ago he reopened the business as Ah-So. He brought on board a woman he affectionately calls "Kate the Sushi Chef from Hell" and her apprentice, Chris Spence, who brings experience in Hawaiian cuisine. The result is a menu that ranges from rolls to Aloha-style eats, with items such as green tea soup.

The place has been packed until the wee hours. Inspired by this, Sonnenschein has big ideas for a redesign--one that sounds more ambitious than Coppola's attack on Apocalypse Now. By mid-September, Sonnenschein plans to have in place a black-light sake bar, a B Room with futons and a large-screen TV (for film theme nights), a 150-gallon fish tank, sitting booths instead of tanning booths, private dining areas, surfboard sushi bars, and what he calls the Tim Burton stage, which will be behind Plexiglas. He also has a commitment to using the walls to showcase local artists (presently you can eyeball Ernest Truely's work). Now that Sonnenschein has left the fake sun business for the real food business, he says his life has turned around. "I'm a Cancer; I'm a natural nurturer," he says.

*These hours start Sept. 1; until then the hours are 10 pm-4 am.

!Item! The restaurant Bluehour is celebrating its first birthday with a street party. In true Bluehour fashion, everything about this gig is just so: Perennial city faves Pink Martini will take the outdoor stage, and food stations outside will offer such treats as heirloom tomatoes prepared in a variety of ways, grilled housemade sausages, ice cream made from scratch, a raw bar and loads of cocktails. Part of the $75 ticket price feeds the Cascade AIDS Project. The time: 5-11 pm Sunday, Sept. 9. The place: Northwest 13th Avenue in front of the restaurant. Call 203-2405 to buy your way in.

 
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