He left Hokkaido to train to become a sushi master. But it was his pining for home that led chef Masaki Miyakawa to become his own man.
He was at the helm of his mentor Masahiro Yoshitake’s Hong Kong outpost Sushi Shikon – and catapulted it to three-Michelin-star status within two years of opening. Returning to Hokkaido in 2014, Miyakawa opened his eponymous sushi restaurant in Sapporo, followed by Sushi Shin in Niseko. And, despite the Michelin stars to his name, he remains completely unaffected. “I am honoured, of course, but it is not something that I think about. It is not what I am about,” says the 46-year-old with a serene smile.
To be clear, Miyakawa, who was recently in Singapore to be a guest chef at Nami Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, emphasises that his cuisine is not even about him. It is about the fishermen – most whom he knows by name – who have mastered the art of preserving the freshness of their catch, and in so doing, brought about more pronounced umami flavours in Edomae sushi today, compared to two decades ago. It is about the farmers who grow the different grains that he uses to craft his sushi rice, so that it attains a unique texture. It is even about the craftsmen who shaped the specially commissioned flatware used at his restaurants.
His cuisine might be a showcase of masterful techniques, perfected over time, but he executes every step with reverence to the many others who have laboured over every element he uses and prepares.
Here’s a closer look at his cuisine – one seasoned by time, respect and a zen state of mind.