He’s the charismatic Executive Chef behind the renowned Sushi Shikon here in Hong Kong that holds an illustrious three Michelin stars.
What are the challenges of cooking this type of cuisine in HK?
There are challenges, but primarily because we are trying to imitate the edomae sushi of Japan. We have the problems the master chefs in Tokyo don’t have, in getting food and water from Tokyo to Hong Kong. We are the first restaurant to do this out of Hong Kong, so we had to educate diners when they came here. Eat Sushi with your hands, stay seated during the meal etc. We used to have big groups walking around when they came to eat here, like a party! We teach people to be prompt for reservations, which is funny because in Japan everyone respects time. We have had some people come to eat here that cannot eat fish. So for us, one of the challenges is to educate the people with how to eat, and what a sushi restaurant is.
What led to the initial success of Shikon in 2012?
Teamwork. A great team in Hong Kong and in Tokyo and lots of communication, all day, everyday. Technology was our friend with FaceTime, Skype, messaging - all types of technology! Fishermen are also very important. We connect with them in the morning, checking the fish quality from Hong Kong. If it is okay, it is sent from Japan to us for the evening. Master Sunnis took particular interest in what we were doing here, and because he has such a great relationship with his suppliers, that helped a lot. We are a new generation but using old traditions and technology makes it possible.
What direction so you believe Japanese food will take in the future?
Fusion makes confusion. Master chefs makes things based on creation and tradition. Japanese food will always be around because it is the root of Japanese culture with a huge focus on ingredients. The rest of the world is also catching up with this way of eating. There are more and more countries now focusing on the most vital part of it all, the ingredients. The food is simple so the ingredients need to be in focus. Sushi is simple, and simple is beauty.
Are there any frustrations for you with cooking in Hong Kong?
Not frustrations but we are trying to do something that is not existing here, something new. We believe in no pain and no gain. So if we have troubles, it is a good thing because we are creating something.
What other restaurants in Hong Kong do you enjoy eating at?
Cantonese foods I like are The Chairman, I really enjoy their crab and squid and Amber as I’m friends with Richard Ekkebus and Lung King Heen.