For starters, there is the warm, intimate setting, both elegant and refined. Then there is the immaculate and artistic sushi bar offering a visual cornucopia of fresh fish. And finally there is the Head Chef himself, Bruce Tae, who has taken the brand-new Brentwood location and inside of six months turned it into the go-to spot for upscale, succulent sushi.
"We have the best fish, the freshest product and the highest quality chefs," said Tae, 42. "We are unique in that we don't offer the same things all the time like the other sushi places. We customize our menus to fit our customers."
And it's clearly working.
Jenica Constanza of Antioch and Seth Wheelock of Brentwood say they patronize the Bluefin as often as three to four times a week.
"We love this place because the food is so fresh and the service so wonderful," said Constanza. "We come here as much as we can."
As a young man working his way through college in Michigan, Tae took a job in a local Japanese grocery market where he learned the fish business under the tutelage of an old country pappasan. Discovering he had a flair for learning to care for and prepare fresh fish, Tae decided upon graduation to parlay that talent into a living.
"I took the job in the Japanese market because I had bills to pay like everyone else," said Tae. "But I soon realized I was good at it, and enjoyed it. I found it to be creative and interesting, and I found that if I tried my best, people seemed to be willing to pay me for my skills as a chef."
Sushi, says Tae, is the healthiest of all foods, even though there are many people who consider raw fish a gamble. While it's true that there are bacteria in raw fish, it is a good bacterium, similar to good cholesterol.
"I really do think it (sushi) is the healthiest thing there is," he said. "The bacteria in fish will make you strong and healthy, not sick … but there are plenty of people in Asia who don't eat raw fish, either; it's not just in the United States."
Understanding that sushi isn't for everyone, Tae has capitalized on the public's hunger for other Asian delights and created an extensive menu at the Bluefin that includes chicken teriyaki, sashimi, tempura and even tofu. Fresh soups and salads are also available, along with a variety of beverages including, of course, sake.
"We customize our menu for everyone's interests, including children," said Tae. "We know that people want different things and whatever we offer, our customers can be sure it is the best."
With seven chefs on his staff, Tae is able to offer customers a variety of expertise and talent. Just as every cook has his specialty, so, says Tae, do the sushi chefs.
"I like to let the chefs work and develop their own special items," he said. "That way they get really good at a few things and when someone comes in and wants a specific food, we can offer them the best there is."
Confident that the business will continue to grow, Tae hopes the Brentwood location will one day be as busy as the their other Bluefin restaurant in Tracy.
"They line up out the door to get into the Tracy restaurant," said Tae. "And I'm sure it is going to be that way here, too. Most of our customers are return customers, and we are confident enough to know that once they come here, they'll be back. It's all about fresh food and service. I want every single person who comes in here to have a good experience, and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens."
Bluefin Sushi is located at 5401 Lone Tree Way, Suite 130, in Brentwood. Open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., reservations are accepted weekdays only. For further information, call 513-8808.