I first met Nick a few years ago when a friend took me to Hamakaze. Recently I went there with Robby and our good friends Christine and Jonnie. It’s a real treat to watch him create his beautiful dishes, not only are they appealing to the eye but incredibly mouth-watering! Nick took exceptionally good care of us. If you have never been here before, do your self a favor and check it out!
At what age and how did you begin your journey into cooking?
I started at the age of 17 where I worked as a Coffee shop helper in Kobe, Japan.
How did you decide to become a Sushi Chef?
My friend’s father who is an Executive Chef at a famous hotel in my city also owned a sushi bar. He just suggested to me that I should learn to make Sushi and help his wife run that bar just in case I can’t find a job here.
Why did you decide to open your own Sushi Bar?
I always wanted to open a Restaurant like many other Chefs with ambition. I tried to get investors for over 20 years. When I got them, no locations. When I had a location, there were no investors. This one came to me by luck. I don’t own it 100%, I have a partner, I’m the operational part and I am the Restaurant. I still want to do one of my own but time is running out.
What inspires you, what gets you excited?
Every other Chef’s invention and work inspires me. My customer’s smile after they have my food excites me.
Did you attend culinary school or were you self-taught, and did you have a mentor?
I was self-taught starting from dishwasher, etc. I didn’t have a mentor.
Do you have a culinary creation you are most proud of? What is your favorite thing to make?
My Sashimi roll was featured on the 1st page of the Dining Out magazine. I was on Japanese National TV, Channel 11. 9 and several news papers here in California. I created lots of things and are copied by many places.
Within our Restaurant creating something unique yet people can relate to, like Lobster Hush Puppies and Angels Wing. Over all I want to make good tasting food to please people not to show off fancy ingredients nor presentation.
Is there a specific cuisine that you are interested in exploring and what would that be and why
I can do Italian, French, Chinese, Korean etc. But my most favorite at this time is a comfort food of the south. In my opinion, food is not a fashion or trend. Food is part of everyday life to comfort you. That’s what I learned over my long life.
What professional chefs inspire you and why?
When I was young Bruce Marder or Robert Bell but now any Chefs down the street doing it a Lo~~~ng time. It’s not an easy job you know. My reward is the customer’s smile.
What was the best advice given to you as a chef and any advice of your own you would give an aspiring chef?
Keep the knives sharp, keep your cutting board clean. You never stop learning. The day you think you master cooking is the day you die. In other words, if you think you know everything you are over.
Would you like to own more Restaurants?
Yes I would want one for myself so that I can make good money but also want to expand Hamakaze while we are a happening place. But my partner doesn’t have the guts, ha ha. If you know of some investors, I’m open for a talk. I don’t mind leaving Hamakaze. I guess I love the challenge and so far for the past 20 years or so, any place I got involved in succeeded.
Hamakaze means ‘onshore wind’. Izakaya is Japanese style of Tapas of small plates “peasant food”. Nick uses seasonal ingredients, the very freshest fish, and exceptionally prepared rice.
“Before opening Hamakaze I served as Head Sushi Chef for Chez Mélange in Redondo Beach, Michi in Manhattan Beach, Rebecca’s and Canal Club in Venice, and Chaya in Venice, where I created one of the city’s first Sushi Happy Hours and received praise in Los Angeles Magazine and on Good Morning America.”
Nick on youtube
HAMAKAZE Sushi & Izakaya
13327 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
ph: 310-822-9900 ( Reservation )