Toshi Furihata, chef/owner of Moshi Moshi on Miami Beach, took top honors at the 2009 SushiMasters Regionals competition, which was held this past Friday evening at the Alliance Francaise. The event featured four South Florida sushi chefs competing on stage for best morikomi plate, best signature roll, and best of show (the highest total of votes for the two plates). The crowd not only got to witness a great performance, but were served complimentary sushi and Kirin beer during the festivities.
Toshi Furihata, Chef/owner Moshi Moshi, Miami Beach
Hiro Asano, Chef Abokado, Miami
Takeshi Kamioka, Chef/owner Tokyo Sushi, Ft. Lauderdale
Nestor Espartero, Chef, Sushi Bistro, Ocala
The California Rice Commission. Judging by the plethora of brands they represent, one can only surmise that growing rice is second only to growing weed as the favorite hobby of those wacky west coasters.
The morikomi plate was to have included six pieces of nigiri and one maki roll with eight cuts, with mandatory wasabi and ginger on the side. Use of produce or other condiments was optional. The signature roll plate was to contain one maki roll with eight cuts. Food cost per plate was not to exceed $12. Plateware was of chef's choice, but had to be white. Chefs were given 45 minutes to complete both competition categories.
I was one of a quartet who scrutinized the chefs as they prepared the plates, and who then retreated to a private room to sample the results. We awarded points on style, technical skills, presentation, originality, and, above all, taste.
Toshi Furihata of Moshi Moshi won for best morikomi plate, best signature roll, and best of show; a clean sweep. Toshi gets to continue on and compete in the 2009 SushiMasters Finals in California come this fall.
Take the jump, look at the photos, and see how you would have voted.
Chef Toshi Furihata was the coolest customer of the competing quartet.
The whole ordeal seemed about as challenging to him as preparing a
peanut butter and jelly sandwich would be to us. For his winning roll
the chef used Sake (salmon), snow crab, red tobiko, lotus root, tamago,
soy paper, and Hitomebore, a super premium short grain rice. This one
got my vote, and won handily.
With 5 color rice crackers (which added a wow factor), sake (salmon),
hamachi, tuna, amaebi (sweet shrimp), unagi (eel), red tobiko, shrimp
tempura, jalapeño, and carrot ponzu sauce. I didn't vote for this one,
as I thought it was a bit too busy. The two Japanese judges overruled
me. What do they know? After the French judge failed to join my attempt
at a filibuster, I relented.
Chef Takeshi Kamioka looks to be pretty young, but he is quite a talent
already. I voted for his morikomi plate as the best, as I found it to
be the cleanest and neatest. And what I liked about his two plates
together is that on the one hand he presented the most conservative of
the morikomi plates (maguro, tuna, fluke, and yellowtail and black
tobika), and then went the other direction with the wildest, most
creative and tradition-trashing signature roll -- with crawfish, ebi
(cooked shrimp), scallop, black tobiko, gold flakes, a side of gumbo
sauce, and a mini Tabasco bottle. It was delicious. Rice used was
California Hitomebore, a premium short grain. Chef Kamioka will be on
bigger stages one day. Photo below is a close-up of that clean-lined morikomi plate:
Chef Hiro Asano put on the best and gutsiest performance of the
evening, the only participant to gut, scrape, and clean his all of his
fish -- and he used quite a few fish. His signature roll was by far the
most ambitious. It included a slice each of spicy tuna with spicy mayo;
albacore with blue cheese soy; sake with chili garlic; striped bass
with shiso lemon and mango, shrimp with curry mayo; hamachi with
guacamole and jalapeño; kani (snowcrab) with soy mayo. I thought it was
the tastiest of all the signature rolls. And he finished on time. His
rice of choice was California Koshihikari, a super premium short grain.
With toro, aji, red snapper, anago (sea eel), aoyagi (clam), and maguro Tuna).
Chef Nestor Espartero likewise looked to be quite young, and he, too,
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displayed tremendous skill and innovation in his work. The morikami
plate contained hamachi, sake, white fish, and maguro, with masago
garnish. For Sushi Bistro's Alexander Dos signature roll Espartero was the only chef to choose a medium grain California rice; his seafood selections were maguro, kani (imitation crab), and tempura
shrimp, with masago garnish and tempura flakes.