FOODIES WEST.COM         
  ONYX 
October 2015 Issue / Vol. 3, No. 19                                                                                                        Westlake Village, California















     
Olympian Michelin Chef
Daniel Schmidt

      
5-Star/5-Diamond
Chef de Cuisine
Cord Chatham

      
Sushi Master
Masa Shimakawa


     
Guy Sporbert
Scotch Ambassador

      

     
Bourbon Steak 2015
Scottsdale, Arizona

     
World Cheese Book
byJuliet Harbutt

     
Andrew Steiner Cheesemonger Extraordinaire


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ONYX Restaurant, Four Seasons Westlake Village, California
ONYX opened in 2006 with Chef Sandro Gamba at the helm and Masa Shimakawa as chef de cuisine. Together, they created the Japanese-style restaurant’s reputation, described by Gamba, as “one of the very best in California.” Gamba, who worked with Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse, said he “learned how to cook beyond guests’ expectations.” Gamba moved on in 2008, and Shimakawa, who learned Gamba’s French techniques and, obviously, his habit of exceeding guests’ expectations, became executive chef and created a microcosm of his Japanese homeland in ONYX. In particular, his sensational sushi shines, and it goes beyond his guests’ expectations in the literal sense. “There is a big difference between sushi here in America and the sushi in Japan,” said Shimakawa. In particular, the U.S. sushi chef uses different fish. Also, the Japanese pay scrupulous attention to details and perfection rather than visuals. “You have to be careful of how you handle the fish,” Shimakawa said. “Also we need to cure, we need to sear, we need to smoke some items. A lot of work. It’s just a piece of sushi, but a lot of work is involved.” For each bite of sushi. “Most people don’t know that,” Shimakawa said. “Especially in an authentic place in Tokyo. They really focus on those details.” Shimakawa learned the art of sushi-making in one of Tokyo’s traditional restaurants run by a family that, he said, had been in the business close to the century mark when he worked there. He described the restaurant and then mentioned the movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, in practically the same breath. So his penchant for details and perfection is ingrained in his process. But that’s about the extent to how the word traditional fits into Shimikawa’s repertoire. As far as Shimakawa is concerned, “The only way to stay fresh in sushi is to create things no one else has done.” This Shimakawa does well.