Irashaimase! This is the traditional welcome with which Hiro-san greets the guests that enter his eponymous Los Angeles restaurant.
It is a restaurant with a short story that starts with a notorious Japanese chef who, born in Tochigi, moved to Tokyo to work at the legendary Ginza Sushi-ko. In 1980 he left for LA and, after a few years there, he opened, with his former mentor’s permission, his own Ginza Sushi-ko. He became the most famous sushi chef in America with a reputation for superior sourcing – much of his ingredients were flown in straight from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market – and for superior prices. He soon gained a name, fame and widespread following. One fan was Thomas Keller, who happened to be opening a second venture in New York City’s new Time Warner Centre and, through an agreement with the site’s developer, was able to hand pick which chefs would be permitted to share the building with him. He was Keller’s first choice and, in early 2004, was convinced to trade in Beverley Hills for Manhattan and a spot conveniently doors down from Keller’s Per Se. His name was Masayoshi Takayama (affectionately known as Masa). However, Masa was unable to manage two residences, so sold his former sushi-ko to his former ‘sous chef’. His name was Hiroyuki Urasawa.
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