Young sushi chef shines in the big city
Chef David Bouhadana is trying hard to take the stuffiness and seriousness out of sushi, which is no easy feat for a 27-year-old French-Moroccan Sephardic Jew. Co-owner of Sushi Dojo, his 32-seat restaurant is booked solid nightly as diners come to pepper him with questions and learn about authentic Japanese sushi in an environment akin to an improvised cocktail party.
Many customers learned of the restaurant, which opened in June 2013 in New York’s East Village, after reading a review in the New York Times, one wherein Sushi Dojo was given two stars and a significant business boost, putting Bouhadana on the culinary map. “We have nice music and we all enjoy a good drink,” Bouhadana says of Sushi Dojo. “But we don’t sacrifice anything when it comes to the food. We offer a casual approach to high-end sushi.”
Most of his ingredients are flown in daily from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market and two other Japanese fish markets. Bouhadana meets his four fishmongers each week and they place orders, sourcing horse mackerel, golden eye snapper and spotted sardine, among other species. Tuna is flown in from Spain, sea trout from Tasmania or New Zealand and scallops and orange clams from Long Island or Massachusetts.
Bouhadana came to the United States as a toddler, grew up in Florida and started out in 1994 as a server at Yokohama Sushi restaurant in Palm Beach County.