How Master Sushi Chef Seiji Kumagawa Uses Modern Technology to Upgrade his Hawai’i Omakase — Omakase

– [Seiji] Omakase, this word spread out many different corner of the US. However, imagine that this word
of Omakase forty years ago, nobody knew it. By now, many people, they understand. My grand master, he just
said to the customer, “You say, give me this, give me that, instead of that, just trust me.” That’s why he wrote
down in his restaurant, today’s special is ‘trust me’. That one is our symbol, our policy. We care. This is what we call a moi. This one is, like in Hawai’i,
we call it a king’s fish. It used to only be eaten by king. But the first I contacted, to research, to find out the moi, I couldn’t get it because, like wild moi is almost gone. We call this one the new technique. We usually call it a kobujime. Kombujime means that we
cure by the kelp, usually. But Japanese Hokkaido
kelp is very expensive, so I try to something different, but same result of that I got kombujime. So we use today’s technology here. Kelp powder and then kelp liquid. Yeah. To make the kobujime
fragrance at the same time. I love everything, because
we flavor it by ourselves, so try to extract the best
flavor from every other fish. So, that’s why we make different sauces, different way to prepare. Not like a Japanese way that we do because fish characteristics
is very different from like a Japanese fish. We’ve got to use something,
like our own technique which we developed. First I started. I used to use almost
all the fish from Japan, but started happening that
like, prices like skyrocketed because of international currency rate. I cannot say to the customer, “This one is $4.50 a piece.”, now you charge me $6.00 a piece. I cannot say, “Oh, those are international
currencies changing.”. So, I start to foresee at that time. Oh, I’ve got to start something,
you know, more affordable but I cannot lower the standard of my sushi. My master told me, “Okay,
try to move to Hawai’ian fish as much as possible.”, So, of course you’ve got like right there in the Hawai’ian oceans,
of course the fish there. Monday, we don’t open at the restaurant but we have plenty of time, so we try to make new sauces or a new way of the prep of fish. Mondays are like our experimenting day. This one is like a Hawai’i local octopus. I made grated daikon, so
you slowly massage like this all the way again and again. One tentacle used to take us
about 45 minutes to massage it. Octopus has like eight legs. So, one tentacle, forty five minutes, how long to finish up one octopus? So, I just think a lot of things and then- Okay, this is a massage shiatsu,
so I try the hand massager. I doubt first, but okay. Let me try anyway. I try and then first day, I
got a result, same result. So, instead of 45 minutes, now I just cut down to five
minutes, one tentacle, see? So, eight tentacles is like 40 minutes, but used to be one tentacle 45 minutes. Sous vide, set it and
then forget it, 24 hours. I focus with my partner how we
make it not a chewy octopus. (Blowtorch being used) I mean it is like a wave. The reason is that octopus
or squid or abalone. Like very slippery. So, like a kind of grab, like a wave cut. We just focus and then once they eat it, Oh, they’re amazed. How come this octopus is not chewy? I love technology. (Massager vibrating) This is a local Hawai’i horse
mackerel or jack mackerel. First we bought it, fresh one, filet, and make exactly like a
Japanese way of serve the aji. You know, jack mackerel. Texture’s okay because
it is nice and fresh. However, taste nothing. So usually, Japanese chef,
we do like the fish massaging We get like grated ginger
or maybe green onion on top and the soy sauce, right? But if I do, Hawai’i aji oh,
customer knows right away. So, we’ve got to think about it. How we make the Hawai’ian jack mackerel come to like a little of our sushi. Maybe also this one a hundred times on like a Monday experiment. And then we found out, okay, so, first we cure it
with like a salt water. Then, we marinate it in the like, herbs. Homegrown, they’re like
rosemary, thyme, olive oil and then like garlic olive oil. And then we marinate it in that oil because we try to imagine
they’re like old sardines to make the Hawai’ian
jack mackerel taste like. So just, we do this way. And many American customers, they say, “Ooh! This tastes like a steak.”, because of rosemary or maybe, so it’s nice. – [Takeo] We have lots of sauce. This is Maui sweet onion sauce. Jalapeño soy sauce, and
also Tokyo green onion. This is fermented red snapper, we call shio kara and this is two types. Regular papaya and
Hawaiiian red jalapeño. This is a homemade yuzu kosho. Master Seiji’s friends
make it, so very spicy. – [Seiji] I don’t
have a particular hobby anyway. So, I don’t play golf. I don’t do anything. Just, I’m a sushi man. That’s it. But I try to make more
like Hawai’i my own grown vegetables and
fruits for my sushi. To harvest it and to
bring to my restaurant. So, for example, like
daikon, Italian basil, thyme, mint, parsley, rosemary, and then kale. Then tomatoes, some
variations, carrot, potatoes, peppers, lots of fruit trees. Papaya and then the guava. Cherry guava, chico, starfruits, mountain apple. Even I have a peach trees
we can grow in Hawai’i. Avocado, and then now, look at that lot of
flowers for mango trees. Lime, lemons, gigantic coconut trees, which grow from here to that giant palm. I do some experiment. I can make a ceviche. I’ve done lots of experiments, because sushi is free. It’s very nice. I can relax farming and enjoying the view. Have a scotch and cigar maybe.(laughs) (Hawai’ian breeze) So, Hawai’i is like a heaven of the tuna. Many people, they don’t know. How are there so many
different types of tuna? Bigger tuna, I’m using, yellowfin tuna, albacore tuna. Many people, they believe the
king of tuna is a bluefin. Even Japanese people say it’s
like a bigger, yellowfin, like a secondary. Don’t say that. Yes, bluefin is good. But they’re different type. This one is a bigger tuna back loins. So, this one’s got like
muscle layers, you see? Usually, the cut against
the grains, right? So, and then, when you see
that like a piece of tuna, you see there like a oval or
like a white line or a grain. So that things, but we just
peel off this muscle by muscle. So this is no grain. No
resistance in your mouth. Hagashi means the
Japanese means, peel off. So we got hagashi maguro
means like peeled tuna. If you eat this, it’s gone. It’s melt away, because
no resistance, right? That’s why I use a technique or the very- This one, even in Japan it’s very rare now because the tuna price is so expensive. We use lots of meat if we do that. And so, maybe even today’s
young Japanese chef or sushi chef or sushi
man, even they don’t know that kind of things, yeah? So, I’m very happy I learned
this kind of technique from my master, grand master skipjack tuna is like a
katsuo, we call in Hawaii. I know they have a very
fresh skipjack in Hawaii in the early in the morning. From ocean sprays to the fish company and then we can pick it up later with it so firm and nice and fresh. However, not so much oil. In Japan, you’ve got like a skipjack with oil that are oozing out and they’re nice and tender and sweeter. But here, the same skipjack,
but we don’t have oil. So, what we’re going to make this one. So, we experiment like
a hundred different ways how to do it. We just start to cold-smoke the skipjack tuna. I built our own smokers. Just like a styrofoam box
and then like a Home Depot, we can buy that kind of hoses and then like , burning
the chip like equally and the cherry. So, we just get it and
then at first, we wrap. We’ve got like a special
paper to suck up the oil and like unnecessary blood We just slice it, sit them like that, and then next day, the brilliant
red color gonna come out. And that’s the time to make
it that like cold-smoke. Then, we start the cold-smoking process for 25 minutes. Nice flavor, smoky
flavor and the freshness added on on the skipjack. So, now we have but we don’t know yet. Maybe we’re going to change it all if we can find more or
better ways to create like a Hawai’i skipjack. 22 years ago, when I came to Hawai’i, I was still young, so I
could do lots of things. Of course, like I want
to retire right away, but you know, time’s shifting. I don’t like to be a grumpy old man. Hawai’i king’s fish, royal fish called moi. We served with the ume sauce. My partner and I, he has a lot of ideas. I have a lot of ideas. Where sometimes, like we do this. No, maybe not, this and that. Many many different things. This is the freedom of the sushi making. Quite soon, his time is going to be come. Two different type of hikari mono. This one’s mixed together. Hawai’i jack mackerel, we
call that akure in Hawai’i. This one is the oo-toro portion of the tuna. We super freeze it, make it foam. A little spicy, a little sweetness with like a sauteed papaya. My grand master and then my
master and me is kind of, they’re almost retiring. Once my time comes, you know, I’m older. That’s why I’m making sushi now, but that’s about the time to be shifting. This is a Hawai’i octopus. Old soldiers like me never die. They just fade away. It’s okay. (laughs)

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