There are numerous sushi dining establishments scattered across the Westside, but in accordance to Chef Masa Shimakawa there is only one particular cafe serving authentic Tokyo-design and style sushi, and that is his new pop-up Soko.
Centered all around an eight seat counter, Soko is an intimate sushi bar tucked within the major-floor lobby of the Fairmont Miramar Resort & Bungalows in Santa Monica. The restaurant embodies Japanese ideals of harmony and consideration to detail, with a simple nigiri and roll centered menu serving the highest quality cuts of fish.
“Sushi is a lifelong passion of mine, and Soko is primarily own for me as I have the possibility to continue on to excellent my craft by curating deeply personalized and memorable encounters for our friends in a just one-on-just one form of atmosphere,” mentioned Shimakawa.
Shimakawa comes from humble origins and propelled himself to success as a result of sheer sushi expertise. Elevated in the coastal Japanese town of Hakodate, Shimakawa took his to start with job as a cafeteria dishwasher with no intention of launching a culinary job.
“I started off to get the job done in the sushi restaurant back of household and I didn’t have any tips or in depth information,” stated Shimakawa. “I commenced studying cooking rice and cutting veggies, working day-by-working day thirty day period-by-thirty day period they (sushi cooks) taught me sushi procedures. This was my starting up level.”
Shimakawa learned he had a pure aptitude and went on to coach beneath best Japanese sushi chefs, earning his way to the sushi cash of Tokyo ahead of taking an overseas position option in Montreal.
A hugely productive ten yr stint in Canada opened doors to prospects in the US at renowned hotels like the Park Hyatt in Chicago and the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake, where he intended the present day Japanese and Asian influenced restaurant Onyx.
Soko is bringing master sushi chef Shimakawa back again to the basic principles, but the food stuff is something but straightforward. The menu is priced for every piece with each and every specific nigiri and roll remaining organized and plated with treatment.
Nigiri choices contain horse mackerel, scallop, ora king salmon, crimson snapper, and kanpachi, when a limited menu of rolls functions tuna, Japanese cucumber, and yellowtail with scallion and toro. There are also a tiny variety of starters, sake and beer on offer.
Shimakawa carefully oversees the sourcing of every ingredient, drawing around 70 per cent of his fish from Japan and the rest from prime coastal regions this sort of as king salmon from New Zealand and tuna from Spain.
“Soko focuses on traditional Japanese Tokyo-model sushi and thoroughly forgets about American-design and style western-fashion methods and elements,” said Shimakawa. “I want to emphasize to the customers that we want them to taste and see traditional dishes, standard products, regular encounters. That is what I want to supply.”
Though the cafe is billed as a pop-up, there is no conclusion date in sight and there are some expansion strategies in the works.
When the personal 8 seat bar will stay at the center of Soko, seating is slated to extend during the lobby and into the nearby sidewalk space. Shimakawa presently has programs for new menu merchandise and experiences which include a shareable nine-piece bento box.
While the fish may well be substantial-end, the dining encounter is meant to be cosy and casual, with a no reservations coverage and paper and pencil ordering system.
The name Soko implies storeroom in Japanese and is a tribute to the areas where by, prior to the times of refrigeration, Japanese fisherfolk would maintain their catch wrapped in fermented rice and salt. This 2,000 12 months aged dish turned recognized as narezushi and is the precursor to the modern artwork of sushi.
Soko the cafe strives to fork out tribute to this extended legacy and is, deliberately, housed in a glass-paneled converted storeroom at the Fairmont. Soko is open on a initial appear to start with provide basis Wednesday by Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 101 Wilshire Blvd.