Chow Bella

80: Lori Hashimoto

From now 'til we publish the 2012 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times and Chow Bella present 100 Tastemakers -- Valley residents who make the cut in our culinary scene. Some you'll know; for others, it'll be a first introduction (but likely not the last). While you're here, check out our 100 Creatives on Jackalope Ranch.

Today: a woman whose restaurant tops just about every other Tastemaker's must-visit list.

Tastemaker 80: Lori Hashimoto

At Hana Japanese Eatery, known for great sushi and old-school Japanese cooking, it's all in the family. Today, we've got one half of the brother-sister team behind it all: Lori Hashimoto. Hashimoto, who's brother, "Chef Koji," can be found behind the sushi bar, is a Phoenix native "who gave up the cushy life as a nutraceuticals executive to open a restaurant with my talented family to showcase Japanese food at its best."

I arrived in Phoenix with... I was actually born in Phoenix to a nessei father who farmed before it got glamorous and a mother who cooked food that rivaled the best restaurants in Japan.

If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... Not so much dining companions as people whose food I wish I could eat again while spending time with: 1) Number one has to be my grandmother, who raised me and cooked the most soulful food. I often wake up craving specific dishes that she made. I miss her so much. 2) Then it's Pi-Ta, who owned Bangkok Express in Tempe, where I held my first job. She made every single thing from scratch all by herself and I was her server, busser, cashier, dishwasher and delivery girl all at the same time. Her flavors were bold yet balanced. I have yet to find Thai food in Phoenix that comes close.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is.... Hana Japanese Eatery, of course!

One menu item this city could do without is... None, there are some things you can't argue and taste is one of them.

My last meal in Phoenix would be... Eating veggies from my dad's garden, eggplants, and okra!

The Tastemakers so far: 100: Tracy Dempsey 99: Craig DeMarco 98: Lara Mulchay 97: M.J. Coe 96: Betty Alatorre de Hong 95: Eric Schaefer 94: Hanna Gabrielsson 93: Shinji Kurita 92: Silvana Salcido Esparza 91: Mike Pitt 90: Christina Barrueta 89: Christopher Gross 88: Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung 87: DJ Fernandes 86: Cullen Campbell 85: Chris Lee 84. Gwen Ashley Walters 83: Tony Morales 82. Lylah Ledner 81: Andrea White

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