Growing up in Fukuoka, Japan, Abe Hiroki and his family lived above his father’s sushi restaurant, introducing Hiroki to the culinary world at an early age. He loved watching his father at work and, at the age of 12, he joined him in the restaurant’s kitchen. The young Hiroki was determined to one day master the various Japanese cooking techniques that he observed.
After graduating from high school, Hiroki attended culinary school in Fukuoka for a year. He then worked as a prep cook at the popular Fukuoka restaurant Nansuikaku Onsen, where he sharpened his craft for the next two years. Seeking a new challenge, Hiroki accepted a position as sushi chef at the restaurant Hamanoya, where he learned the art of sushi preparation.
Hiroki moved on to a sous chef position at Shipoya Kazu to broaden his skill set at this Fukuoka restaurant that specializes in beef dishes. After learning how to properly cook beef, Hiroki transitioned to Nakano Hama, where as sous chef, he oversaw the proper execution of the restaurant’s traditional Japanese dishes.
In 2001, after six years of working in various Japanese kitchens, Hiroki made the decision to move to New York City to experience a foreign culinary culture in a city known for its restaurants. Once Hiroki settled into his new home, he accepted a sous chef position at Jun in Manhattan. During his time there, he worked alongside the executive chef to apply Japanese preparations to freshly caught seafood.
Three years later, Hiroki was introduced to Reika Yo, owner of EN Japanese Brasserie, with whom he shared a passion for bringing authentic Japanese cuisine to New Yorkers. Hiroki felt that the restaurant would be a good fit for him, and the extensive menu would allow him to showcase his range of techniques. He started as the restaurant’s chef de cuisine before Yo appointed him executive chef in the spring of 2009.
Hiroki serves a vibrant menu at EN, using the finest seasonal ingredients to create a modern take on traditional Japanese dishes. With options such as buta kakuni (braised Berkshire pork belly in sansho miso) and uni chawanmushi (sea urchin egg custard), Hiroki challenges and expands guests’ perceptions of Japanese food. He also enjoys visiting the Greenmarket to source fresh vegetables to incorporate into menu items such as the signature housemade tofu. When not at EN, Hiroki spends his time fishing and playing cards with friends. On his days off, he also stages at other New York restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park, Blue Hill, Chikalicious and Le Bernadin, which gives him the opportunity to learn from and exchange ideas with his colleagues.
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