Executive chef of Sushi Roku, Shin Toyoda, has been with the restaurant for over 20 years.
He’s perfected the art of making every guest feel perfectly at home while simultaneously surprising and delighting their palates with authentic, innovative Japanese cuisine. Here, he tells bask about the importance of Omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality, and the rise of health food trends.
What is your favorite dish to cook when you’re off-duty?
Pasta, pizza, stew or bread. Something easy to go with a good wine at home.
What is your favorite meal when someone else is cooking?
Japanese-style course meal. Starting with an appetizer, salad, or soup, then moving on to the main courses followed by a dessert.
What do you think is the most exciting new culinary trend?
There are so many choices here. I feel that healthy choices in culinary are on the rise—anywhere from Ayurveda, which is apple cider vinegar, to kombuchas in cocktails, to playing with Omega-3’s, to pressed juice, to Middle Eastern fusion foods, to goat cheeses used in main courses and appetizers, to noodles being used all around. Every type of noodle will be seen in all culinary coming up.
What sets Sushi Roku apart from other sushi restaurants?
This is like asking what the difference is between a professional chef and your everyday, at-home cook. The everyday, at-home cook will open up their refrigerator and look to see what they have to eat and try to stick to a few recipes they are accustomed to without paying attention to minor details that go into making a culinary masterpiece. At Sushi Roku, we are like a traditional Japanese restaurant with a new twist. We are traditional in the sense that we make our culinary masterpieces based upon the changing of the seasons. Like the seasons changing, our tastes change the same way. Our twist on the masterpieces come with paying attention to all the details, big and small, from what type of plate we use, to what color the fish is and how it will taste and amaze your taste buds with some zest or tang, or another flavor that will pair with that particular season. From the idea, to concept, to shopping for our fish in the fish markets, to the presentation of our works of art, every detail is thought over and planned out before we present our guests with our final creation.
What experience do you want diners to have at Sushi Roku?
I would like every one of my guests to enjoy a trio of things. I feel satisfied when my guests have the opportunity to actually taste our works of art, to know what a delicious piece of tuna tastes like and how it differs from other flavors like sea bream or A-5 Wagyu steak. At the same time, I want my guests to feel real Japanese Omotenashi, which is Japanese hospitality, like they are more than just guests in the restaurant, that they are more like family to us. And last but not least, to enjoy the modern, upbeat atmosphere we are trying to create, which brings everyone together to enjoy an important part of Japanese culture.
How does each location of Sushi Roku where you’ve worked differ?
This one is hard to answer. I would say that all the Sushi Roku’s are like a box of crayons. They are all made and work the same way, but each one is unique and different in its own way. Even with the individuality of each one, without the other, you would not be able to complete your picture.
What do you see for your future with Sushi Roku?
Omakase! Which means leave the choices up to your chef. I have my trust in Sushi Roku.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your cooking career?
I have learned that there are four major components in seeing your culinary career move up. They are hospitality: make sure you stay hospitable to everyone you meet; impression: from the first to last, always make a good impression; inspiration: always keep your inspiration to move forward; and passion: love what you do and do your best at it.
What are you most proud of in your 20 years with Sushi Roku?
The opportunity to share my knowledge of Japanese cuisine, the people that I have met, and all the smiles I have seen after they have tried my food.
SUSHI ROKU Fashion Island 327 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660 ~ 949.706.3622| InnovativeDining.com