Counter intelligence: Food truck putting down Wayzata roots

  • Updated: October 10, 2012 - 2:44 PM
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Nokomis Restaurant & Bar in Duluth is closing, but chef Sean Lewis says he isn't going far.

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Food truck putting down Wayzata roots

It's officially a trend, because another food truck is making the leap into a permanent restaurant.

This time around it's Sushi Fix (www.sushifix.net). Owner Enkhbileg ("Billy") Tserenbat just signed a lease on the downtown Wayzata storefront that was most recently home to Black's Ford (682 E. Lake St.). The restaurant, scheduled for a January opening, will feature a 10-seat sushi bar and table seating for 25.

Tserenbat launched Sushi Fix earlier this summer -- the Midwest's first mobile sushi operation -- and it quickly became a major crowd magnet at the Marquette Avenue food truck court in downtown Minneapolis.

Tserenbat was born in Mongolia, and spent his teenage years in San Francisco. A classmate's father owned a sushi bar, "and that's where we hung out, and that's where I decided that it would be cool to be a sushi chef," he said.

He moved to Minnesota nearly 12 years ago, becoming a familiar face among sushi aficionados at places ranging from Fuji Ya in Minneapolis to Yumi's Sushi Bar in Excelsior.

Sushi Fix-ers know firsthand that Tserenbat is a stickler for quality and freshness (and not to worry, downtowners: He's keeping the truck). He sources his seafood directly from purveyors and markets in Hawaii and Japan, and his work day starts with a 5:30 a.m. airport run.

Closings and openings

News from the Northland: Nokomis Restaurant & Bar (5593 North Shore Dr., 1-218-525-2286, www.nokomisonthelake.com) in Duluth is calling it quits.

"It has been a good run," said chef/co-owner Sean Lewis. "I think we've made the culinary scene a little bit brighter. We had seven great years, and we've decided that it's a good time to finish, and go out while we're on top."

Retirement -- for co-owners Sandy Lewis and Rondi Erickson, Lewis' grandparents -- is the primary reason behind the closing. "They've got a personal bucket list that they've worked out," said Sean Lewis. "They want to travel."

The restaurant, located on the old Lake Superior-hugging highway between Duluth and Two Harbors, takes full advantage of the ridiculously scenic lake views.

The good news is that Sean Lewis is staying in Duluth. He's already finalized his next venture, but isn't ready to release specifics.

In the meantime, Nokomis will continue to welcome guests through Oct. 28.

In south Minneapolis, El Meson has closed its doors. The restaurant's sibling, Cafe Ena (4601 Grand Av. S., Mpls., www.cafena.com), remains open.

Nightingale (2551 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.) made its debut this week, serving small plates and cocktails (and cooking until 1 a.m.) Tuesday through Sunday.

The frozen yogurt mother ship is coming: Pinkberry is opening its first Minnesota outlet in November, inside Macy's at the Mall of America.

The award goes to ...

Tickets are now on sale for the second annual Charlie Awards, which recognize contributions to the Twin Cities restaurant community and will take place Nov. 11 at the Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. Tickets are $25 to $100, with part of the proceeds benefitting Open Arms of Minnesota, and are available at the Orpheum, State and Pantages box offices and through Ticketmaster.com.

RICK NELSON

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