Chow Bella

93: Shinji Kurita

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 man who takes his raw fish very seriously.

Tastemaker 93: Shinji Kurita

Someone once told us Chef Shinji Kurita would throw you out of his James Beard-nominated restaurant, ShinBay, if you asked for a California roll. But when you've got a reputation for serving the best sushi in the Valley, we guesss you're allowed to that kind of thing. His cuisine, based on traditional Japanese-style coursed menu with modern twist, is designed to take the diner "through a journey of peaks and valleys of flavors and textures'' -- it's so good, you might never want to leave.

I arrived in Phoenix ... in 1981 to work for a Japanese restaurant.

If I was sitting down to dinner for six, my five dream dining companions would be... my five dream companions would be (omitting honorifics) Sen No Rikyu (master of tea ceremony and Cha Kaiseki, mid-1500s), Kobori Enshu (master of tea ceremony and garden architect, mid-1600s), Yohei Hanaya (Edo-style sushi inventor, mid-1800s), Kitaoji Rosanjin (gourmand, calligrapher and ceramicist, mid-1900s) and Ms. Julia Child.

One place everyone who comes to Phoenix must eat is... It's hard to pick just one; we have many inspiring restaurants in every genre, comparable to other foodie cities.

One menu item this city could do without is... Too much Americanized ethnic dishes. I believe people's palate here has been refined enough to go without them.

My last meal in Phoenix would be... Soft-boiled organic free range eggs just picked in the morning with toast, I'll enjoy them on the patio watching the Arizona sky . . .

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

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