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This LA Chef’s Love of Jazz Inspires His Omakase

Kiminobu Saito compares his ad-lib style of cooking at Sushi Note to making music

The first jazz concert Kiminobu Saito went to was Miles Davis, when the iconic composer and trumpeter was performing in Tokyo in the 1970s. “He was probably the greatest artist I had ever seen in concert,” remembers Saito. The Los Angeles-based sushi chef recalls being able to hear each individual instrument in the band, and how they all communicated with each other to create music. “That reached me,” says Saito, who compares jazz to his line of work as a sushi master. “It is what you do to enhance the flavor of each of the ingredients, and to create tastes that people will enjoy.”

The parallels in the two are also what inspired Saito’s Sushi Note — his Sherman Oaks omakase restaurant where jazz comes out of repurposed stereo speakers. Saito thinks of himself as a musician, where one can not simply rely on technique, especially if there is no soul behind it. So the chef’s style of cooking is admittedly less technique-driven, and much more ad-lib. “The rest is passion and sense,” he says. “And how I see it, without these things you cannot create taste.”

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