Hirofumi Nakano (left) and son Leo.
Hirofumi Nakano (left) and son Leo.
Jackie Mercandetti

Leo Nakano, Son of Hiro Sushi Chef, to Open New Sushi Restaurant in Ahwatukee

Leo Nakano will be making his own soy sauce at Sushi Nakano, his first restaurant, opening in Ahwatukee January 26. Leo has a strong sushi resume. He has worked in his father Hirofumi Nakano's restaurant, Hiro Sushi in Scottsdale, since he was 14. He got started at Sushi Station a few years later.

And though Leo will be layering flavor into his soy sauce using sake and seaweed, he may not set containers of the iconic dark sauce on tables.

Leo wants to give Sushi Nakano more of a Japanese spirit than your typical sushi restaurant. Leo visits Japan every two years. He trained under his father, who learned the art of sushi there. Leo emphasizes less rice, more judicious use of soy sauce (brushed on by the chef), and a sharper focus on sushi and sashimi (as opposed to rolls) when identifying tenets of Japanese sushi-making he wants to follow.

Sushi Nagano will have just three two-seat tables. Another 14 seats line the sushi bar, topping out the 1,000-square-foot-space at a mere 20 seats.

"My idea of a Japan atmosphere is to keep it small," Leo Nakano says. "That's my dream, to have a traditional sushi restaurant."

Leo will be serving sushi, sashimi, rolls, and kitchen preparations like udon noodles and bento boxes.

He recently spent two months working for his seafood supplier, True World Foods in Tempe. He wanted to see how the fish was stored, prepared, and packed.

Sushi Nakano will be located at 4025 East Chandler Boulevard.

Update: The opening will be slightly delayed. More information to come.

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