Interview with Chef Hiro Watanabe

Vancouver is home to some of the best chefs in the world, many have worked for the top chefs and restaurants around the world as well as around the city. Dishing with the Chefs is a series of Interviews with some of the top chefs in and around Vancouver.

Chef Hiro Watanabe

Hiro was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan, after graduating high school, Hiro attended culinary school in Nagoya for 1 year. He then worked Kaiseki style at Nadaman restaurants working as a cook. He spent 3 years there working all the positions including front of house so that he could understand the customers and learn as much as possible. It was a large restaurant (which is presently owned by the Asahi Beer company). In 1997, he visited Vancouver for the first time as his relatives were already living here. He then travelled back and forth to learn and help at Tojo’s Restaurant for 2 years, the restaurant that his Uncle Tojo owned. In 2000, he moved to Vancouver permanently and then worked at Tojo’s for 17 years in every role. In early 2018 he left to open his own restaurant, Super Hiro’s in Kitsilano.

You can follow Chef Hiro on Instagram @chefhiroki 

Where did you learn to make Sushi?

At Tojo’s in Vancouver, I learned how to roll sushi, as well as the Nigiri style.

What is your style of Sushi?

I make a Niguri style (orthodox style), with soft rice ball using medium firm rice as cooked then the fish put on top to balance.

What has it been like for you running your own restaurant?

Slow from the beginning and growing my regular customer base.

Tell me about the Sushi and Japanese cooking style now in Vancouver 

It’s now 2nd generation here, and things are constantly changing, restaurants making signature dishes that constantly evolves.

What is your favourite food to eat?

Ramen (Shoyu style)

Curry Rice

What are your Favourite restaurants outside of where you work?

  • Cioppino’s
  • Seto Sushi in Richmond
  • Empire Restaurant in Richmond

What are you’re your interests outside of work?

  • Fishing
  • Watching soccer
  • Watching movies

What dish on your current menu would you pair with Sake?

Fish on the Green

1st dish:

Fish on the Green

Fish on the Green

Japanese grouper (Kihata kue)

Momijioroshi (grated daikon with Japanese chili powder) sauce (made with pea, broccoli, spinach, pepper, yuzu, miso)

Organic green (ginger sauce)

Inspiration

White fish very thinly sliced, dipped with ponzu sauce, created for pescatarians.

Do you Cook at home?

Yes

What do you like to cook at home?

Everything such as ramen, curry rice, omelette, fried rice, yakisoba, beef stew, cold noodle, chashu.

Do you make your own Noodles?

I used to make my own Udon noodles

What are your favourite drinks?

Water

Sake

Shochu

 

2nd dish:

Fish & Cheese

Fish & Cheese

Breaded white fish with shiso leaf

Roasted red pepper sauce

Brie cheese

Organic greens

Italian parsley

Inspiration

It came from fish & chips, gives Westerners a good entrance to my Japanese cuisine.

What is Japanese Pepper that you used for your 1st dish?

Citrus, salt & pepper

3rd dish:

Ocean’s Bowl

Ocean’s Bowl

Manilla clms

Squid

Snapper

Assorted mushrooms

Fish

Homemade tomato sauce

Pea shoots

Italian parsley

Inspiration

Started with a bouillabaisse with fish and seafood from the ocean.

Stay tuned for the next chef in the Dishing with the Chef series.

By: Richard Wolak