An invitation to get to know Japan in Sydney
Japan and its unique culture continue to fascinate thousands of Australians, and whether it be food, fashion, beauty or traditional arts, more and more are seeking it out at home.
The Ultimate Japanese Staycation Guide takes a tour of the Japanese cultural scene in Sydney, which is responding to what the Japanese would describe as a ‘love-call’ from everyday Aussies with fresh, authentic stores, food trends and more. See how easy it is to slot a taste of everyday Japan into the Australian lifestyle, and make it more multicultural than ever before – get set to begin your Japanese staycation in 3…2…1…
Training, love and care…
A story of true dedication to the art of sushi
Have you ever noticed that at authentic sushi restaurants, the chef stands in front of the cutting board? This is what gives them their Japanese name: ‘itamae’ (or itamae-san when addressing one), which literally translates as ‘in front of the board’. It is a long way to the cutting board if you want to be a Japanese sushi chef, but this is also exactly why sushi made by an itamae is truly exquisite.
Chef Ueda, of Sushi Studio in Neutral Bay, is a bona fide itamae-san. His own journey to being ‘in front of the board’ began with a simple inspiration: a love for Japanese food. As to why he chose sushi as his specialty, he says, ‘there was a part of me that chose sushi because as a child, I didn’t get to eat sushi very often… So I figured that as an itamae, maybe I’ll be able to eat lots of it!’
For the best part of his first three years as an apprentice, Chef Ueda did his time as a dishwasher. It is a long, difficult road to becoming an itamae, and he says that it’s all about being a quick learner and hard worker.
Both the training and the actual work of an itamae is tough, and painstakingly intricate. The job is an art, which can’t be mastered without the amount of love, passion and discipline that Chef Ueda has; his knowledge and years of experience are what allow him to perfect simple, delicate food like sushi. Ever humble, he modestly explains, ‘at the end of the day, all I hope for is to see my customer’s face light up in delight because of the food I’ve created.’
When you know that your food has been prepared with so much care, it seems to taste even better!