What a remarkable find! Betty Hallock, Deputy Food Editor of the LA Times, along with photographer Ricardo DeAratanha, discovered a true gem - a talented vegan sushi maker operating a fully plant-based, home-based outlet in LA. The captivating story of a Dancer's Nigiri Transformation is truly one of a kind pirouetting the highly talented Yoko Hasebe into the spotlight.
But full credit must go to one-time classical ballet turned jazz dancer, Yoko Hasebe who hasn't had a chance to slip on her dancing shoes since the publicity.
When she first came to America from Japan her dream was to dance on the stage. Amidst captivating dance auditions, she gracefully pivoted to a new stage, culinary artistry. With finesse, she mastered the art of both cutting a dash and fish, ultimately becoming a maestro of nigiri sushi. In 2018, as the crescendo of customer requests for vegetarian options swelled, she was called upon to choreograph the creation of vegan sushi. These requests served as the catalyst for her extraordinary metamorphosis into PlantSushiYoko.
** Omakase literally means 'What ever the Chef pleases' - Western vernacular would be more akin to ' I'll leave it up to you'.
Source: plantsushiyoko -Yoko Hasebe
Embracing her true calling, Yoko passionately wields her expertise through private classes and gracefully slices through the flourishing 'personally delivered' Plant-based Sushi Box business, like a Yanagi knife.
This is how LA Times photographer, Ricardo DeAratanha, captured Yoko's amazing fully vegan 'round sushi box' creation.
Source: Ricardo DeAratanha-LA Times
'My goal is to preserve the Japanese tradition of treating ingredients with respect while evolving sushi so we can continue to enjoy our cultural food in a sustainable way', says Yoko Hasebe.
Yoko Hasebe says that although she loves traditional sushi with fish, she became eager to satisfy customers using only vegetables while she was working at Japanese-owned restaurants in San Diego and Los Angeles.
Source: plantsushiyoko -sushi boxes & koko wasebe
In a beautiful fusion of passion and talent, the Japanese dancer gracefully reshaped her path, traversing beyond the realms of movement to embark on a captivating culinary odyssey.. With unwavering Japanese determination, she honed her skills, delicately manoeuvring her way from the dance floor to the art of crafting exquisite nigiri which is now gaining a cult-like following.
Through her private classes and the flourishing 'personally delivered' Plant-based Sushi Box business, Yoko invites others to experience the harmony she has discovered in blending plant-flavours and cultures. As her story continues to unfold, she dances to the rhythm of her own culinary symphony, enchanting palates and igniting a newfound appreciation for the art of sushi in LA.
** Omakase refers to a style of dining where the customer entrusts the chef to create a personalised menu or selection of dishes. The chef curates a sequence of dishes based on the freshest ingredients available and their culinary expertise, often incorporating seasonal and premium ingredients. Omakase dining is typically associated with sushi restaurants, where the chef prepares and presents a variety of sushi and sashimi dishes in a carefully orchestrated sequence. It is a unique and immersive dining experience that allows the chef to showcase their skills and creativity while offering the customer a memorable culinary journey.