Located along the stairs of 86 Pine Street in Seattle, Sushi Kashiba is well-known for its gorgeous views toward Pike Place Market and Elliott Bay. Through the restaurant’s large glass windows, guests can see the sun descending below the horizon and the light of the day fading daily. However, the spectacular views and elegant interior design isn’t the lone factor that makes this Japanese restaurant famous. What is it, you ask? It is the soul who stands behind the sushi bar since 1970, Chef Shiro Kashiba.

1

He introduced Seattle to the first sushi bar

47 years ago, Chef Shiro Kashiba pioneered the existence of Edomae style sushi in the Pacific Northwest after years of training at Yoshi Sushi in the Ginza district of Tokyo. Sushi, meaning “sour” in Japanese, was a way to preserve and ferment fish. Only until the 18th century, the commonly known “raw fish over vinegared rice” sushi was finally invented. Edomae- “edo” was the former name of Tokyo and refers to the most traditional style of preparing sushi, according to Chef Shiro. Edo style sushi was prepared and sold on stands even before the invention of refrigerators. Chef Shiro was the original chef that stood behind Seattle’s first sushi bar crafting and perfecting delicious sushi that other sushi chefs are still trying to master.

2

He was Jiro Ono’s apprentice

Jiro Ono is the head chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-Michelin-starred Japanese sushi restaurant in Ginza, Chūō, Tokyo, Japan. In April 2014, Ono served Prime Minister Abe and former President Obama at the restaurant. Ono was named one of the sushi masters and his legacy was made into the documentary film “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” in 2011. Chef Shiro admitted that Ono’s deep influence and encouragements have led him to where he is today. In the interview he did with IBUKI Magazine, Shiro said, “Personally he is a great friend of mine, and I worked under Jiro-san four years…To make the customer happy was the biggest influence from him.”

3

He has his own memoir.

On the very first page of Shiro’s memoir “Wit, Wisdom & Recipes From A Sushi Pioneer” , it graciously states “To the people of Washington State, for allowing me to cook for them for forty-five years. Nothing makes me happier.” Shiro’s book about his culinary mastery has remained highly rated ever since it’s release in 2011. The Seattle Times once commented on the book review: “Beautifully photographed and illustrated, filled with memories spanning seven decades and two continents, the book chronicles his years spent as a sushi apprentice in Tokyo’s Ginza district and brings us up-to-date with Seattle’s contemporary sushi scene.”

4

He still goes to the seafood markets every day!

Age won’t stop him from working, but more importantly, it won’t stop him from what he loves to do best, delighting his customers by serving the best sushi at his restaurant. He once said, “To be able to provide local customers with local product is a good thing.” Since variety of fish markets differ greatly between Seattle and Japan, seafood in many restaurants are mainly from wholesale markets. Everyday Shiro insists to go to the markets, personally, and hand pick his ingredients in order to provide customers with the freshest products. “Preparation is the most important procedure in making sushi wise,” He continued, “it requires knowledges and experiences to select the best quality in seafoods. Otherwise, serving the bad quality ones are dangerous to customer.”

Article | Zita Lam
Video | Zita Lam