the little sushi shop at 2501 Eastlake Ave. N. was hopping on Friday night as customers nodded and swayed to live jazz music while enjoying some of city's most highly esteemed sushi. Watching it all from behind his counter, chef Hiroshi Egashira smiled, savoring what may be one of the final nights of what’s become a six-year tradition.
Greg Williamson, jazz percussionist and owner of local label Pony Boy Records, was a regular customer when Egashira asked him one day, “Just what do you do?” One thing led to another and the Friday tradition of “Jazz and Sushi” at Hiroshi’s was born. It has become enormously popular, and regular customers Wistar Kay and Melinda Iverson told me that jazz and sushi are natural partners. Both women spent many years in Japan and said the jazz scene there is very strong. The food at Hiroshi’s is the most authentic in the city, they said, and the music provided by members of Pony Boy’s stable of musicians is always top-notch.
Egashira came to the United States in 1990 and put down roots in Seattle. Though he’d never visited the area before, it just felt like the right fit for him, he said. In his younger days, he
was a backpacker, traveling to as many countries as possible to see all he could of the world. When the travel bug bit again, he was a little older and a little wiser, he said, and he felt he needed a marketable skill to take with him.
He decided to learn to make sushi because of its global popularity, but learning to make sushi in Japan is not a decision to be made lightly.
“It’s a very formal process,” Egashira explained. It can take anywhere from five to six years to be fully trained, and the first year, he said, is spent washing dishes and doing kitchen chores.
He spent nine years learning his trade at the well-regarded Kawashou restaurant in the Fukuoka prefecture in Japan before setting out on his own.
Egashira began his career in Seattle at Kumon on Lake Union, but his sushi didn’t remain under the radar for long. In 1994, some of his devoted regulars who worked for Boeing asked him to cater some of their events. Two years later, he opened his own catering company to meet a demand that was growing quickly.
Word got around about Hiroshi’s, and before long, his sushi was being sold at Safeco Field.
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