Chef News

Chef Chat: Shin Toyoda, Sushi Roku

Armed with a super sharp sushi knife and some of the freshest fish to be found in a desert, sushi chef Shin Toyoda takes Arizona tastebuds to Tokyo, one happy customer at a time.

Toyoda got his first job in a restaurant when he was 16 as a busboy and has been in restaurants ever since. His upbringing and his 30-year career -- 11 of which have been with the Sushi Roku company -- has made Toyoda very particular about his representation of the cuisine.

"I have to keep Japanese food traditional," he said. "It's my way."

It certainly doesn't hurt to have some of the best  ingredients on the market on hand. He says it is very important to keep it simple and let the quality and freshness speak for themselves.

However, Toyoda says some Japanese restaurants have a tendency to stray from the classic cuisine, complicating the menu with too much frill. He sees American sushi trends like Japanese cars sold in America: They just aren't the same as back home.

Some major differences Toyoda sees Stateside are the use of wasabi and teriyaki. He says in America, sushi restaurants give their patrons far too much wasabi on the side, so the diners tend to glob it onto their meal, overpowering the flavors of their sushi or sashimi. He also says that teriyaki really isn't that popular in Japan anymore.

Sadly, he also informed us that mochi ice cream isn't that popular in Japan -- but that probably won't stop us from eating it.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch