Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
The Sushi Chef: Shark Hearts & Fish Sperm with Yoya Takahashi

The Sushi Chef: Shark Hearts & Fish Sperm with Yoya Takahashi


Jiro dreams of sushi, but Yoya dreams of
Amber Heard. No, you don’t like? You guys don’t like her? I’d like Amber Heard to
come to my sushi bar to taste my sushi. That’s my dream. My name is
Yoya Takahashi. I’m from Japan, Kyoto. I’m the Executive
Sushi Chef of Hamasaku in West LA. For me sushi means
kind of my life. I’ve never done 14 years,
the same job all my life. Sushi is an important part of my
life right now. Yes!
Exactly, sushi changed my life. When I lived in Japan, I
never thought, you know I would do a sushi job
in the United States. Just nothing to
do in Japan. That’s why I jumped
in an airplane. Yeah, it was unbelievable
to start living here. My grandfather was
a samurai actor, used to be. He’s like a Broadway
actor a long time ago. That’s kind of the
feeling I’m following. It’s going to be
something happening, that kind of dream. Yes, that’s exactly
why I came here. Then I found out that my
great job is sushi job. Then I found out that my
great job is sushi job. And then I kinda
started that way. When I came to
Los Angeles I just needed money. I didn’t speak any
English before. I started working at a Japanese restaurant
as a server. The owner said I’m
kinda a big guy, kinda loud voice, why
don’t you do sushi chef? Then I kept doing
basically a sushi job, it was super interesting. How simple but
how to create, you know, everyone thinking
about it. That’s why i started
the sushi job. Being a sushi chef is
like being a stage actor. We’re standing in front
of customer to make them enjoy dinnertime and
lunchtime. Yes, exactly, I feel
like an actor here. Sushi is art. Same knife, same fish. But if different people
are gonna make it, it’s going to be
totally different. Their personality exactly
comes out in this one small piece. People are always
thinking about sushi fish over the rice. Actually, that’s
not sushi. We call it nigiri. We have to making
squeeze so there are no space
between rice and rice. Also how much
we use wasabi, how big size to use of
the sliced raw fish. Sushi exactly,
need technique. I’m doing right now,
breaking down fish for service today. This is Thai snapper. I’m going to take off
scales right now. Yeah, I hired Hoya. I was looking for someone
that’s really passionate and someone that could
help us at Hamasaku. Bring more of the
traditional aspect as, he just had him come in and
we just started talking and we just click
right away. Cooking on the barbecue
some sushi and just unbelievable and
it just went from there. This fish was caught about 12 hours ago in
Japan, Kyushu Island. The fish comes about
12 hours to us. I like working with
it as sashimi. It’s nice in texture and
fat. We have to tell people
how beautiful the fish we have everyday. I never give up, I just
keep doing different fish and different styles. Then people get excited
to come to here to eat again. Orange soft clam. Normally people
not much order it, that’s why I
wanna try telling people how beautiful
the clam we have today. Sometimes I’m too
much focused. That’s why I need one person to smile for
me, you know? Say, Hey Yoya! You need to relax,
you need to calm down. That’s exactly me.
Even when I’m driving, he’s always watching me. Smile guys! Now I’ve finished
breaking down. Sorry, sorry,
fish guts are here! This is haiga-mai. I’ve almost used it for
six years. So this haiga-mai is
between white rice and brown rice. White rice is sometimes
too sticky for me. Also, brown rice, there
is no way to make sushi. It’s too hard. It’s totally different. I love it. Well, Yoya brings
a lot of sauces and different flavors. Instead of the
traditional flavors that you’re used to
actually in Japan. He sort of has
an edginess too and he’s very creative
when he wants to make new American sushi. People say crazy. My GM only calls
me rock star. Some people say
Dead Head sushi. I have a tattoo,
I listen to music. I have long hair. That’s why people think
I’m kinda a bad guy. But I want more people
talking about my food. Simple is my art. It looks crazy sometimes,
but one knife, one shot. Yes!
I was the one to use barracuda first
time in Los Angeles. Exactly, it looks
like a barracuda. In Japan we always
do it on a grill. Simple soy and
lemon for bite. Simple soy and
lemon for a bite. That’s why,
Why don’t you make sushi? Usually sushi is
always raw fish, but I sear Barracuda
because richer flavors come out that best
match the sushi. I make best barracuda
sushi in Los Angeles. So what’s next? Come on! Make sushi! Maybe people know here Hamasaku is
like a hidden spot. Inside it’s
still authentic. But more
comfortable.That’s why people are coming here. I don’t know if you
know the history about the place, but
Hollywood hangout. Where all the actors and
agents used to come. It’s been here for
about 14 years, I’d say. Mike came and
then Yoya came. They did definitely bring this place up
a little bit. The first couple of years
we had a power lunch spot here. We have to keep our quality high-end to
maintain our reputation. That’s why people come
here a lot, I guess. We became good friends. We’d go out. We go grab a drink, you
know, go eat together. We’re gonna go hang out
in Long Beach tonight. I live in Long Beach. I feel so comfortable,
I don’t know why. The people are so nice. I think the long drive, I like thinking about
the menu and other stuff. It’s like I have a small
little office in my car. I like to go listen
to live music. Like the Grateful Dead, country songs,
also old rock and roll. Sometimes I go to
the rock show, I feel, you know, I’m the only
Japanese over there. Yes! I love to drink,
go dancing, and go crazy all night.
Yes! I love to drink, go dancing, and
go crazy all night. I feel more at home in
Los Angeles than in Japan. I’m more loud. I have more passion
about presenting my own personality in my food. That’s a new look for,
that’s good look. Oh, yeah! Yeah! Yoya likes to be known
for traditional sushi, but he does have
a different style. He has a little
bit of a rock and roll edge to his sushi
and technique as well. But we all bust with
each others’ balls. We actually like
to joke a lot. At the same time, there’s always some
truth behind the joking. So that’s how we bust
balls, that’s what we do. Sushi is starting to
change kinda crazy now. Crazy changing means,
you know why? It’s going to be here is
California is roll using so many ingredients,
so many sauces into it. Two more people
are coming right now. Sometimes we learn from
our customers what is the right way to
serve people. I do the traditional way,
but if customers want crazy
sushi I will do it 120%. I never say no. But it has to be tasty,
healthy, and happy. My skills are kind
of okay, but how customer likes my
skill is what I feel is more important here. I have a great technique. I have great knives. As long as
the customer is happy. Yes, some customers
are kinda crazy, but I like to see
customers smile. But don’t trust me. He’s crazy, he’s loud, he brings
a lot of crazy energy. Did I say he’s
loud again? He surprises me
all the time. He ordered fish sperm and
I was like how can we. That’s the challenge
probably, is how am I gonna explain
this to the customer for them to order it? Now I’m going to make
the Green Dragon roll. Christina Aguilera
came in here to decide the ingredients and then pick out
the name of the roll. Okay, let’s start. This is soy paper. I grab brown rice- easy,
nice. This is spicy tuna. Just roll it up. This is half of an an
avocado I’m going to cut. People talking to each
other about Hamasaku, they can create
their own roll, whatever they
like to make it. -Could we get a vice
Munchies Roll? Yes, why not? I can make vice,
you know? Cover with plastic wrap. So, I kinda
make the shape. This is what we
call the makisu. Here in America,
there’s so many different
countries and people living together. That’s why they mix up so many ingredients that
they’re making new sushi. Micro-mixed greens
on top. There you go. That’s Green Dragon. This is lobster and crab mixed up with
dynamite sauce on top. So we try to use, not just traditional
Japanese techniques, but try to incorporate
the modern techniques. So, we think
outside the box. This is the busy spider. To make more
unique things. Shark heart! What?
Shark hearts! What’s that? Shark hearts! Oh.
Totally floored me, I was excited. I was probably more
excited than him when he said shark hearts, yeah. Let’s get it,
let’s just try it. I wanna try it too,
you know, and then people actually
enjoyed it. We actually got that for
Valentine’s Day. It was not good much in
the sushi actually, so I sliced and
cut to eat as sashimi. That’s a good way to
eat shark hearts. If people want to know,
I definitely want to talk to my own
country’s things. I’m feeling sometimes
that that’s kind of a tasting
sushi bar’s job. People start with,
I don’t like sushi. But I kind of start talking to push
it a little bit. Then sometimes customers
ask about sushi. What is that? Where is it from? How do I eat it? That is why I totally
enjoy Los Angeles people getting started
to eat sushi. So when people talk
about good thing, bad thing, I don’t mind. Either way I can
appreciate if people are talking to me. My way is my way,
you know? I’m just going
to go my way. I feel I belong here
in Los Angeles. I love you.

19 comments on “The Sushi Chef: Shark Hearts & Fish Sperm with Yoya Takahashi

  1. In the Netherlands sushi blew up the last couple of years. So many people that never had sushi before now love it.

  2. Yoya is like that asian guy from the movie "how high"..you east coast, I'm far east coast" he just blends in

  3. OK, must be the first time I hear anyone complaining about "nothing to do in Japan", even though its like the busiest and highest dynamism first world country ever 😀

  4. ふっ、こんな男に旨いものがつくれるはずがない!くだらん、食うに値せん。帰るぞ中川!

  5. Seems like a really cool, chill guy. I’d love to go and visit this sushi bar for the food and experience

  6. First time i saw him in youtube he was grading cheap sushis ever since then im fond of this guy hes the embodiment of calmness.

  7. I'm definitely going to stop by and check out that resturant. Cant wait to meet this guy in person, hopefully I dont go when he's off or something.

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