Kyatchi's Hide Tozawa on Minnesota sushi bars: "Most aren't doing it right"

Categories: Interview

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Sean McPherson
Hide Tozawa in the kitchen at Kyatchi

Hide Tozawa is a chef on a mission to show Minnesota a different type of Japanese restaurant. His team at Kyatchi wants to take some of the cream cheese out of your roll and let you chew on something you might actually find in Tokyo. Hot Dish caught up with Tozawa on a recent Monday after he had finished prepping for dinner service.

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Hot Dish: When you started out as a sushi chef were you concerned about sustainable ingredients?

Hide Tozawa: No. For most of my 18-year career that wasn't a priority. My career started in Minnesota, though my first experience was hanging around my aunt and uncle's sushi restaurant in Tokyo. I jumped in there but I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I don't count that as part of my career. I would get up early and go to the market for them, but not much else.

How did you get to Minnesota?

I came to the University of Minnesota to study, my parents sent me far away because I was a trouble-maker. I quit school two quarters short of graduation, but I wanted to stay in Minnesota for a little while longer. I would lose my status in this country if I stopped being a student. At that time Origami was looking for a chef who had sushi experience. That got me a work visa and a green card to remain in the country. In my career I have worked for Origami, Nami, Fuji-Ya, as a private chef for the Twins player Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and now in a leadership role for Kyatchi.

How has your style in the kitchen changed now that you are also running your restaurant?

It's a big change and it's a lot of pressure. When I left my position with Nishioka I took a year and worked for Fuji-Ya. I didn't know what was next for me, but I had bills to pay. I would go to work and I would be relaxed. But now, it's completely different. It's added pressure and I have too many things to do.

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Sean McPherson
The Tsukune Donburi at Kyatchi

Do you feel like being so busy takes you away from being able to do the work?

Being honest with you, yes. Not all the time, but sometimes. Most of the time I think 'I don't have a life right now.' But we are trying to do Japanese culture the right way here. Looking at other Japanese restaurants, I don't care what they do; it is their business. But to me as a Japanese chef from Japan, it seems most aren't doing it right.

What doesn't seem right?

Everything is wrong. Not everybody in town but most. And again, they can do whatever they want, but when I look at what they are doing, they shouldn't name themselves a Japanese restaurant or a sushi restaurant. Many people think how Minnesota serves up Japanese food is how we eat in Japan, but it's not.

Does Kyatchi have more in common with how people are eating in Tokyo?

I wouldn't say it's completely the same. There are so many different restaurants in Tokyo and Japan as a whole. But, if you look at my menu, especially sushi, there are no Americanized rolls. I made those things enough in my career in the United States. I want diners at Kyatchi to see what a single ingredient can create if it is done right. It's a different goal.

Location Info

Kyatchi

3758 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant


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42 comments
Shane MF S
Shane MF S

I think if a business has returning customers and is making money than they are doing it right. It may not be as traditional as in Japan but no Shit, this is Mn.

Rohan Deelen
Rohan Deelen

"But I feel like for most people the important thing is value, not the quality, and that's sad." With all do respect he is right in saying that a lot, say of Americans, value quantity over quality and that indeed is sad. The same can be said about the Dutch who when they get Chinese food expect quantity not quality. And there is that word again obesity.

Dennis Laurion
Dennis Laurion

Does that mean that many people think how Minnesota serves up Mexican food is how they eat in Mexico, but it's not?

lawthoummavong
lawthoummavong

One of the worst sushi bar I've been to, no offense , if authentic food equals blanddddd and paper thin slice of fish over a pound of rice and charge me $15 for it ,than I rather eat non-authentic Japanese sushi around minneapolis that I really enjoy and get more of a real slice pieces of fish that worth my money !

Edward Reeves
Edward Reeves

Uh it's Minnesota, We're pretty far from Japan on many levels. Ever had hotdish in Japan?

Jodi Chiu-Chrisler
Jodi Chiu-Chrisler

Oh, I'm so going to go. I envy different. Doing something different is what makes a person, product, business stand out. Much ♡ to Different.

dekay5555555
dekay5555555

Sushi Creamcheese, honey, what's got into ya? 

pretzels183
pretzels183

When he says other restaurants aren't doing it "right," he's referring to authenticity.  Just a poor word choice, but don't let it sidetrack you.  His goal is to present a true depiction of Japanese cuisine, thus giving people a more authentic experience and reflection of the culture.  I don't think he's sticking his nose up at other restaurants, he's just disappointed at the inaccuracy and misinformation too commonly projected into our American culture.  And given that most of us don't have the luxury of flying to foreign countries and gaining an authentic experience for ourselves, I'd say there should be more appreciation for his attempts to bring the experience to us.  No need to get offended or sensitive about the matter. 

Kazuko Yoshida Gansert
Kazuko Yoshida Gansert

"I want people to understand quality, not only of fish." Love that! Good read!!!

Christine Min Wotipka
Christine Min Wotipka

Californian-born and raised husband was shocked to see "ketchup" proudly listed as an ingredient on the menu at a Mexican restaurant in my hometown of Rochester. I was not only shocked but completely embarrassed!

Mary Aho
Mary Aho

Right = good tasting. Technique is irrelevant.

Jason Thury
Jason Thury

I don't live in Japan...therefore I don't expect to get food exactly like its made in Japan. And that's all right with me as long as it tastes good.

jason.dorweiler
jason.dorweiler topcommenter

Never understood why more places cant break out of the norm.

nandujour
nandujour

I get that most American sushi joints might not be authentic, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Any region is going to cater to the local palate when it comes to foreign food. That's just how it is. It's easier to appreciate and understand sushi in America if you view it as an American lens through which sushi is interpreted.

John Sloan
John Sloan

nope it's dogs and cats over there.

Bruce Huisinga
Bruce Huisinga

Note that Minnesota food in Japan is not quite right either!

M Allan Lafleur
M Allan Lafleur

Amen to this! Last great sushi i had was Shiros in Seattle.

Princess Kari Stern
Princess Kari Stern

Omg, this guy is my hero. Me and my husband are moving to Japan in a couple years and ive been complaining about the sushi n cuisine here for awhile, the only place I consider decent is fujiya....ive been staring at this place every time I pass by it, and now I know why I feel drawn to it

Chris Lo
Chris Lo

they don't serve blue fin tuna? that's ballsy...all my favorite rolls contain blue fin tuna

bobob1916
bobob1916

"But is that sustainable? Isn't that a goal to not use so much petroleum to get the fish here?"


He is not hiring his own plane.  The plane is flying here regardless if his fish is on the plane or not.

Lynn Quijada
Lynn Quijada

Hide! I remember him from Origami ❤️

Tony Delmonte
Tony Delmonte

I so miss the Ox Tounge I had in Japan in 2009. I try this place out.

Jeffrey Stager
Jeffrey Stager

Do those restaurants that aren't doing it right have repeat customers? Making decent money? Then they're doing it right. Not everyone can be a ________-snob.

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