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Daigo Sugiyama

Chakaiseki Onjaku



Ongoing trial and error in pursuit of deliciousness

“May I present ‘cucumber wrapped Japanese jack mackerel’—aji is caught throughout Japan, but this is specially delicious aji. As long as my guests are dining at a restaurant in Yaizu, they might as well enjoy all kinds of fish and appreciate the richness of our waters.”

Daigo Sugiyama is a native of Yaizu. He has been a fan of fish from Sasue Maeda Fish Shop ever since his grandparents ran a soba noodle restaurant. While in high school, he even learned how to rinse and clean fish at Sasue Maeda Fish Shop. That was when he first met Naoki Maeda. The two reunited when Sugiyama returned after training in Tokyo.

 “While I was training, I was always told that Tokyo is a magnet for the all the best things, that Tokyo is unbeatable. That stuck with me after I came back home and made me wonder what’s the use of giving it my best shot here in the country? But then I saw Mr. Maeda and Mr. Shimura [of Tempura Naruse] being recognized for their brilliant work, and felt ashamed because I realized I was just making excuses.”

Sugiyama’s collaboration with Maeda thereafter gave birth to the signature dish “seared scaly splendid alfonsino.”

“It took a tremendous amount of trial and error. Just when we thought a dish was nearing completion, another idea came up. Convention said that kinmedai, or splendid alfonsino, should be left to rest and age to bring out the flavor. But since we were serving it so close to the source, wouldn’t it be best to offer the unique experience of tasting it freshly caught? So first, we compared various dishes made with the same cut and size of fresh and aged kinmedai, and found that the fresh versions always tasted far better. Then, we spent endless nights creating a recipe to accentuate and enhance that delectable freshness. Our process of creation is ongoing. There won’t ever be an end, because I hope to always keep on evolving.”

“Cucumber wrapped Japanese jack mackerel”—the taste of aji is a barometer of the richness of the waters.

Chakaiseki Onjaku
6-14-12 Honmachi, Yaizu, Shizuoka

Text | Daisuke Horie Photography | Hitoshi Ohno