The pursuit of culinary knowledge has long driven Chef Hirokuni Shiga, fondly known around here as Chef Hiro. Raised in a family of passionate restaurateurs and chefs, this pursuit has taken him across Japan, Australia, Europe and China; in his travels, he immersed himself in myriad Japanese dining styles — from the intricate kaiseki to the delectable tempura and even the rustic yakitori. Ultimately, it was the raw, unfiltered intimacy of Edomae-style sushi that resonated most deeply with him — an experience where the chef, the ingredients and the guest converge in total harmony.
Chef Hiro’s ethos is anchored in the genuine relationships between the sushi shokunin, the producers, the tools and every discerning guest who graces his sushi counter. This philosophy seeks to capture the essence of omakase — a dining experience predicated on trust, respect and impeccable precision. At Sushi Haru, he veers away from the pretentious and inaccessible, fostering a welcoming ambiance. Far from the serious or even angry personas he sees in some shokunin, Chef Hiro craves engagement, wishing for every diner to immerse in the joy of the experience, which he believes is the bedrock of true hospitality.
It’s a connection he shares even with his suppliers, each having shared a long-standing relationship with Chef Hiro. The seafood, a cornerstone of his art, is sourced from trusted merchants sprawled across Japan. The serene ambiance of Sushi Haru, with its exclusive eight counter seats, offers a tantalising omakase menu featuring the finest Edomae-style sushi — an age-old tradition where marinated fish takes center stage. This method, born out of necessity in ancient Edo, evolved as shokunin discovered the enhanced flavours it bestowed upon the fish, turning preservation into an art form in itself.
With ancient traditions guiding his work, Chef Hiro lets us in on a few traditions of his own — specifically, the ones that guide his usual routine in his “Day In The Life” diary.
7:30am: I typically rise and start my day by brushing my teeth. I then drink a glass of water and engage in some light aerobic exercises. Depending on my mood, I might go for a run, do some stretching, push-ups or squats. Once done, I take a shower and enjoy a light breakfast. This usually consists of fruits and protein blended together or a bowl of oatmeal.
8:30am: I’m getting dressed for work, often accompanied by some calming music to set the tone for my day.
9am: I head to the restaurant. There, I check the day’s reservations, understand the guests’ preferences, and finalise the menu items. This is also when I begin my preparations for both lunch and dinner. Given that each fish has unique characteristics, my preparations vary accordingly. For instance, I ensure that the rice for sushi is ready 30 minutes before guests arrive. This timing isn’t arbitrary; it’s to ensure that the rice maintains a better texture and optimal temperature compared to freshly cooked rice.
12pm: The lunchtime rush begins. As guests arrive, I double-check for any allergies, particular dislikes or special requests they might have. Given the limited time some of them have, especially those heading back to work, I also inquire if they have any time constraints.
2:30pm: Once the lunch service winds down, I take a break. Most days, I dine at our company’s Team Canteen. However, on some occasions, I indulge my love for soy sauce ramen by visiting one of the finest ramen joints in Hong Kong. Post-lunch, I head back to the restaurant for a brief rest.
4pm: Our shipments from Japan typically arrive. I sort the ingredients into two categories: those for the night and those for the following day. We source our ingredients from Zen Foods, primarily because they have people at the Toyosu market in Tokyo. This allows me to purchase from a trusted fishmonger I’ve known for years, ensuring consistent quality.
5pm: My focus shifts to dinner preparations. Given the extensive evening course menu, this time requires intense concentration. In between, I touch base with our suppliers to gather the latest information on available fish before the evening service kicks off.
6pm: Guests with dinner reservations start to arrive. Given the extensive menu, timing is crucial, and maintaining seamless cooperation with the kitchen team becomes paramount.
10:30pm: Most guests have departed, so cleaning and wrapping up begins. This is also when I reach out to suppliers to place orders for fish and other essentials for the coming days.
11pm: I start my walk home from Central to Wan Chai. This not only keeps me fit, but also helps me unwind. On some days, I drop by the gym near my house for a quick workout. Once home, I rejuvenate with a hot shower, followed by a cold one to relax my muscles.
12am: I’m usually settling down with a light meal, which is often natto or other Japanese dishes. Cooking isn’t my favourite activity at home, so I either keep it simple or order something for delivery. While eating, I watch movies or catch up on Japanese news. Although I avoid alcohol on weekdays, on holidays I might enjoy a drink or two.
2am: After brushing my teeth and sipping some hot water, I retire to bed, concluding another day in my life.
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