Sushi tops the list of almost everyone’s favourite foods but there’s one upscale kitchen in Toronto that’s putting a unique twist on their fish and their Head Sushi Chef is our next Chef of the Week.
Allow us to introduce you to Kazuki Uchigoshi.
While Miku has only been open in Toronto for a couple of years, it’s been making waves in Vancouver for quite some time. The Japanese restaurant specializes in Aburi-style sushi, tasty bites of flame seared fish atop perfectly packed beds of rice and finished with special sauces.
Kazuki Uchigoshi is the man behind Miku Toronto’s almost-to0-pretty-to-eat sushi. With humble beginnings in Japan, everything Kazuki has learned has been taught through experience. Working his way to the top from the bottom, he received most of his training on the job at Sushi Tora, Miku’s sister restaurant in Miyazaki, Japan.
Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with Kazuki about how he got his start in the kitchen, why everyone should keep miso in their pantry, and what he likes to cook at home. Take a peek at our interview below.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started at Sushi Tora as a dishwasher. I graduated to making miso soup and working the fryer. After training for two years under the head chefs there, I was finally able to make sushi. I worked a total of four years at Sushi Tora, then transferred to the original Miku location in Vancouver.
How would you describe your culinary style?
Being Japanese, I always start with traditional Japanese cuisine and techniques as my base. It is also important to me to incorporate local influences. That’s why I create Japanese food with a twist, whether it’s using local ingredients or flavours. I want my cuisine to be global, and not just Japanese.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about the restaurant industry?
I think a lot of people see the restaurant industry as a place to work temporarily, on their way to something better. Restaurant careers can bring a lot of happiness and fulfillment, especially if you’re working for the right company.
What’s your favourite dish on your current menu and why?
I love the Aburi Prime, it’s a dish where I really get to use my creativity and wow the guest. It’s 10 pieces of nigiri with carefully selected sauces and garnishes. On the menu, we mention it’s an “omakase” selection, meaning you leave the selection to the chef. I get to work with beautiful fresh ingredients, pairing each fish with it’s own special garnishes for unexpected and delicious combinations.
What’s your go-to meal to cook at home?
I love cooking pastas of all types. I like to make Italian style pasta like Spaghetti alla Carbonara, or wafu (Japanese style) pasta like Mentaiko. Mentaiko pasta is very common in Japan, it’s served with a cod roe cream sauce. The cod roe adds a nice saltiness to the pasta.
What are three restaurants our readers need to try before they die?
I would have to say Miku and Minami! All of our restaurants are amazing, and our Miku location in Vancouver just got named one of the top 8 sushi restaurants in the world! Another one of my favourite restaurants is Nicli’s Pizzeria in Vancouver. They have amazing wood fired pizza.
What’s one tip our readers should know to up their own game in their kitchens?
They should try adding some Japanese ingredients to their pantries. Miso is one ingredient that adds so much flavour to dishes. I even make a pasta with creamy miso sauce. Dashi adds a lot of umami flavour to anything. And you can use sake and mirin to braise chicken or meats, just as you would with wine, it adds a really nice flavour profile.
If there was one thing in the restaurant industry you could change, what would it be?
As I said before, I really believe the restaurant industry is a great place to make a career. What our company believes in is also what I firmly believe in. We invest in our team to make them better, well-rounded business people, mostly promoting from within. Our chefs learn to cook and create dishes. But they also learn the business side – numbers, management, etc. Through making each person stronger, we make our company stronger.
How do you think Toronto (and/or Canada’s) culinary scene will evolve in the future?
People are becoming a lot more educated about food. There is a huge culture around foodies, restaurant culture, and sharing dining experiences. I think that people expect more these days and I think the trend will continue. The restaurant industry will respond to the demand by creating more intricate dishes, fine dining restaurants, and interesting combinations of cuisines.
Are there any other chefs you’d like to see profiled? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.