By Jack Rubinger
Division St. has a new Chinese and Japanese restaurant, all in one, headed by Sushi Chef Jake Wu. It’s called Kanji Fusion.
Kanji are a set of logographic characters from Chinese script which forms a major part of the Japanese writing system.
“I just thought Kanji was a good fit because we do Chinese and Japanese food and also, when I was learning sushi, my Japanese teacher gave me the nickname Kenji,” explained Wu.
Wu and crew opened Kanji Fusion several months ago. A dessert place was there before, but closed due to COVID-19. Set in a long, narrow space with a couple of paintings on neutral walls, the restaurant looks fresh and new.
“A lot of times people do order a little bit of both Japanese and Chinese dishes,” he said.
He said business so far has been good and hopes more people in the neighborhood will stop by to check out spicy Szechuan dishes like Szechuan Shrimp and Cantonese dishes like Mongolian Chicken.
“There’s been a lot of take-out and a lot of to-go,” said Wu, who heads a staff of five to six people, including a chef who just focuses on Chinese food. Wu’s wife helps out on the weekends.
His thinking in opening the restaurant was that there aren’t many Chinese restaurants in SE Portland. He and his partner Ethan Li liked the space and the neighborhood. Earlier in the pandemic, Wu and Li had lost their jobs working at another Chinese restaurant.
The two have been friends for years and have both been in the restaurant field their whole lives, so they came together to open Kanji Fusion.
When Wu was younger, his family owned a Chinese restaurant in Vancouver.
“Our restaurant in Vancouver was a great Chinese restaurant which my parents owned and operated until they retired. My dad was a Chinese chef for close to 30 years,” he said.
Szechuan crispy tofu has been popular among vegans and vegetarians. House tangerine ribs are the chef’s special. Also well-liked are pan-fried noodles prepared in the Cantonese style.
“We’re noticing that people tend to do spicier now,” said Wu.
In the cold of winter, the hot and sour soup has been a hit and he’s thinking sushi will bring customers in for something cool.
For family-style dining, there are big, round tables in the back which can be equipped with a lazy Susan for sharing. The back room can accommodate about 20-30 people.
Kanji Fusion offers a wide array of sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri, appetizers and salads on the Japanese side of the menu which can enjoyed from the sushi bar.
They have an $11.50 lunch special menu and a bar stocked with sake and beer.
“In winter, hot sake warms the body up and enhances the flavor of food,” he said.
“We’re learning how to get through this COVID -19 time, but this is a popular area, and we’re hoping our specials will catch on in the neighborhood,” said Wu.
Originally from China, Wu now lives in the Woodstock area with his wife and toddler. For fun, Wu takes off to Mt. Hood for snowboarding. He’s been sneaking Olympics highlights when he has a chance.
Restaurant hours are Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday 11 am-2:30 pm (lunch) and 4-9 pm (dinner). Friday and Saturday they are open 11 am-2:30 pm (lunch) and 4-9:30 pm (dinner).
They are closed Tuesday.
Kanji Fusion Restaurant
3113 SE Division St.
Kanji Fusion Restaurant Photo by Jack Rubinger