As a teenager in central Hokkaido, Masaaki Miyakawa often played willing “sous-chef” in the family kitchen. But he found the greatest pleasure when his mother served his creations to visitors. He was excited when his fare brought appreciative smiles to guests’ faces.
More than 30 years on Miyakawa-san still derives the same buzz watching diners as a delicate morsel bursts onto the taste buds. But now he is doing it as a twice-awarded three-Michelin-star shokunin, an artisan who creates for the joy of presenting a perfect product for his guests.
Miyakawa-san is a new entrant to Niseko’s burgeoning gourmet restaurant scene. Visitors can experience his special sushi at Annupuri’s Sushi Shin. It’s his first venture after being awarded three Michelin stars for his three-year-old central Sapporo restaurant, Sushi Miyakawa. Previously, as manager and chef, he steered Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong from two to the coveted three stars.
Over his career, 47-year-old Miyakawa-san has absorbed many influences to develop his Edomae sushi style. Edomae means literally “in front of Edo”, the old name for Tokyo.
TEXT: KATHY STUART
PHOTOS: AARON JAMIESON
APPEARS IN: POWDERLIFE 2018 EDITION
CHEF MASAAKI MIYAKAWA
Chef Miyakawa’s decades of experience include a tenure as the executive head chef of Hong Kong’s most celebrated sushi restaurant, Michelin 3-star-awarded Sushi Shikon. In 2017, Michelin awarded Chef Miyakawa’s own recently opened restaurant Sushi Miyakawa in Sapporo with three stars.
Miyakawa-san approaches all aspects of dining passionately, including the restaurant’s ambience. Located in the swish new Kamui Niseko condominium, Sushi Shin is a sensual experience. Its expansive hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood counter fills the intimate atmosphere with forest freshness. Inlaid into the counter are contrasting Japanese momiji maple-leaf-shaped cut-outs crafted in dark kurogaki persimmon. Miyakawa-san says he notices customers absent-mindedly rubbing their hands across the counter as they enjoy its soft, smooth feel.
Having not mastered the art of being in two places at once, Miyakawa-san meticulously trains staff in his ethos. Sushi Shin is in the capable hands of Hironori Satake, a chef of 20 years. The counter seats a maximum of eight within easy conversation distance from Satake-san who flourishes his razor-sharp, 30-centimetre steel Honyaki knife with samurai-like skill.
Satake-san sources his produce from four major centres including Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market. His techniques include ageing fish (sometimes for up to two weeks) and other Edomae methods such as marinating in vinegar or soy, or between sheets of kelp. Dining includes watching him grate a large portion of fresh wasabi, the temperamental root vegetable which is part of the horseradish and mustard family and integral to the taste of sushi and sashimi. The real thing can sell for ¥20,000 a kilo in the markets.
Miyakawa-san’s long training encompassed internships at various restaurants, including French and Italian. One was the three-Michelin-star Moliere in Sapporo, run by French-trained Hiroshi Nakamichi. Miyakawasan said he met Nakamichi-san again at the Michelin awards function earlier this year, but says the master chef didn’t remember him! It seems unlikely that will happen again.