“Local Tastemakers” is a collection of intimate interviews exploring Newport Beach’s flavor and flair through the eyes of the city’s most captivating chefs and restaurateurs during a time that has heavily impacted the restaurant and hospitality communities. Follow along every week to get to know familiar faces and the secrets to the dish that made them a locals’ favorite.
Head Sushi Chef Hiroshi Shima of Sushi Roku was born on Hokkaido—the northernmost island of Japan—a region known for its cold waters and fresh seafood. After growing up on Hokkaido and studying the delicate work of the island’s renowned sushi chefs, Chef Shima decided to bring his knowledge to the US and offer the West Coast an authentic taste of Japan.
With a menu chock-full of inventive rolls, specialty appetizers and exotic entrées, Sushi Roku remains a pioneer of contemporary sushi. And while the restaurant favors a more avant-garde approach to Japanese fare, the precision and respect of traditional culinary practices remain the bedrock for Sushi Roku’s brand of culinary artistry.
For Chef Shima, exploring flavors from different cultures is a passion. He prides himself in incorporating diverse, non-traditional ingredients. Whether it’s jalapeños from Latin America or olive oil from Europe, Sushi Roku continues to tantalize taste buds with clever and artistic creations.
Head Sushi Chef Hiroshi Shima & Sushi Roku
What made you want to become a chef, and what is the best part of your job?
After seeing the delicate work of sushi chefs in my hometown, I was inspired to bring those flavors and authenticity to Southern California. Our menu is so diverse and always evolving, so when guests are pleased with their meal, I feel proud; I live to hear them say, “it was delicious.”
What is the most popular thing on the menu, and what’s your favorite?
The fluke kumquat sashimi with yuzu vinaigrette is a local favorite. It consists of thin, fresh slices of Fluke, topped with cilantro leaves and Kumquat zest, all placed in a zesty Yuzu vinaigrette. I love fluke sushi with shiso leaves, Okinawa sea salt and a drop of yuzu juice.
Looking Back at 2020
Talk to us about all the ways you pivoted your operation in 2020/21.
We created various to-go menus so people could easily order all of their Roku favorites! We also offered family packs that could feed four or more people.
How has this past year affected your staff?
As a team, we had to really make sure we weren’t putting anyone in danger. So, when it came to running our operation during a pandemic, we had to be extra diligent with wearing masks, washing our hands and making sure all of the health requirements were met. We knew the stakes were high, and we had to do our part.
What do you love about Newport Beach?
There are many fashionable, elegant and friendly people in Newport. Throughout all of the closures this past year, the local community showed immense support. Whether it was ordering takeout or buying gift cards, we experienced so much love.
What are some specific things people can do to help your restaurant?
Our patio is open now, so please come visit us and enjoy!
What is your ultimate hope for 2021?
I want to see the smiling faces of our customers as soon as possible!