Chef News

Hana's Lori Hashimoto Dishes on Brazilian Lobster, Magic Knives and Keeping It All in the Family

Lori Hashimoto Hana Japanese Eatery 5542 N. Seventh Avenue 602-973-1238 www.hanajapaneseeatery.com

This is part one of my interview with Lori Hashimoto, co-owner and sushi chef of Hana Japanese Eatery. You can read part two of the interview with Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery here.

To understand Lori Hashimoto, you must begin with her name, a blending of American and Japanese -- like Hashimoto herself. At first blush, she seems like an outgoing all-American woman but get her around her mother Kinue and her stepfather Kazuto Kishino (who help her operate the restaurant) and she becomes a soft-spoken Japanese daughter whose every word is deferential. She is two people and wears both personas well.

Hashimoto grew up in the Southeast Valley, taking a job at Bangkok Express in Tempe after high school, where the self-described "meat and potatoes girl" began taking an interest in more sophisticated fare. "Her food was phenomenal, like crack" says Hashimoto of her Thai boss. "She made me try things. She changed me forever." Hashimoto stayed there for two years, working as busgirl, cashier and manager before earning an associates degree in Social Work at Mesa Community College.

But social work was too depressing, so she took a job as "lab rat" for a nutriceutical company, working her way up to GM of the plant 15 years later. She was bringing in the big bucks but not feeling particularly fulfilled.

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Nikki Buchanan