How did you start Hashida Sushi?
After the Fukushima Earthquake it was a diffi- cult time for restaurants in Japan, so I decided to go overseas. Five years ago, I opened Hashida Sushi in Singapore, which Time Out Singapore recently named one of the ten best Japanese restaurants in the country and the best for Omakase.
The dining experience you create?
My father and I have different views on cuisine. He does not like decoration. I felt that those who dined at my restaurant were foodies who knew how to enjoy the artistic beauty of a dish and its flavour. It is a different generation as well, because of social media, they appreciate a beautiful dish.
Have you tried Sri Lankan cuisine? Have you been inspired?
I tried Sri Lankan chicken curry. My wife is Thai and I can generally eat Thai food, but this was spicy and punchy. I might find inspiration for a dessert I think. I am always hungry to learn new things.
Why did you decide to host a Omakase dinner in Sri Lanka?
I was invited by Naserah Tyebally, Colombo Supper Club to serve an Omakase menu at the Shangri-La Colombo. In Japan, diners usually say “Omakase”, where they ask the chef to choose the order, because they trust the chef. I felt Sri Lankan diners would be able to understand the concept.
All time favourite dish?
It is difficult for chefs to enjoy a meal at a good restaurant. I just keep savouring each flavour thinking ‘oh wow what is that flavour or technique’. I enjoy good cuisine in my own way. And at times what’s most relaxing for me is ‘feel-good’ food.
What you have learned?
By being in Singapore, and seeing Japan from outside, I feel I understand Japan more. Japan needs to change its mindset, because our focus is only within the country. I think we are too nice and too laidback sometimes.
Other hobbies and interests?
I paint and design. Recently, I took photographs of nature at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, cut out images and designed a material, which was tailored to make a suit. I am working with another chef in Japan to make a coat. We designed a cap collaborating with New Era of New York, who are known for the famous Yankee cap.
Advice to aspiring chefs?
Keep the passion. Don’t lie to anyone. Don’t think about the money first. Trust yourself.
What’s next for Chef Hatch?
In September, I will be opening a restaurant in San Francisco. In April next year, I will be opening the renovated Hashida Sushi restaurant in Tokyo. It took three years, because I wanted to use the heritage material from my father’s restaurant to keep the history. I am also always working on something new in the kitchen with my team.