Tuesday, 21 February 2023 19:37

Sushi Kimura Featured

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Sushi Kimura

Tomoo Kimura, the Sushi Chef behind Singapore’s Michelin-starred Restaurant

Tomoo Kimura is an acclaimed Japanese sushi chef who runs the Michelin-starred restaurant Sushi Kimura. After graduating from Hattori Nutrition College in 1987, Kimura spent two decades mastering the art of sushi. He learned most of the craft working under a mentor at Tsukiji-Sushi Sei, an Edomae-style sushi restaurant in Tokyo founded in 1889. In 2012, he moved to Singapore to open Sushi Kimura, which became the only Japanese restaurant listed in the 2018 Michelin Guide for Singapore. At Sushi Kimura, the chef pays homage to his Japanese roots through the ingredients he uses, which he has shipped directly from Japan, from the rice and fish to the water used to wash and cook the rice. Tokyo Journal Editor-inChief Anthony Al-Jamie interviewed Chef Tomoo Kimura about his career and what it takes to open and run a successful sushi restaurant.

TJ: Can you tell us where you are from and how you entered the food industry?
My hometown is near Yokohama City in Kanagawa Prefecture. Originally, I thought I would go to a university and become a computer programmer, but I saw my older brother’s work as an engineer, and even though I liked it, it looked tough. My mom’s cooking is very nice, and I enjoyed eating, especially because of the communication it creates between people, so I decided to go to culinary school instead. There was a popular TV show at the time called Iron Chef (Ryori no Tetsujin). Because I did not have connections to the restaurant world, I decided to study in Tokyo at the Hattori Culinary School, which worked behind the scenes of Iron Chef. When I graduated, the school introduced me to a sushi restaurant in Warabi, a city in Saitama Prefecture. I later worked at Tsukiji Market’s oldest sushi restaurant: Tsukiji Sushi Sei.

TJ: How long did it take you to become a sushi chef?
It took around six to seven years. It is a long process because most sushi restaurants educate and train their chefs first. Working at a sushi restaurant is unique and we need to learn everything about the job. The sushi system they taught us was clever and systematic. The first part of training was learning how to be a waiter, wash dishes, deliver, clean the restaurant, grind wasabi, prepare sushi rice, and make nigiri sushi. I finally became a sushi chef and started to serve customers.

TJ: Tell us about your Michelin star.
I feel honored to have the Michelin star award. However, the meaning of Michelin is changing. Before, people got information offline and relied on big names like Michelin to check on different restaurants. Nowadays, we can easily get information from the Internet and check for ourselves. I think in Japan, most sushi chefs will say they don’t care about Michelin. They are happy when they get the honor, but it is not too important for them.


The complete article can be found in Issue #281 of the Tokyo Journal.

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Anthony Al-Jamie

Anthony Al-Jamie lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years. His in-depth understanding of Japanese language and culture has allowed him to carry out interviews with many of the most renowned individuals in Japan. He first began writing for the Tokyo Journal in the 1990s as Education Editor, later he was promoted to Senior Editor, and eventually International Editor and Executive Editor. He currently serves the Tokyo Journal as Editor-in-Chief.


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