“My goal is to create a place where people can enjoy delicious food and drink to satisfy their tongue and tummy with the hospitality, harmony and respect to satisfy their soul.”
Masa Endo was born and raised in Chigasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. He has also lived in Tokyo and Nagano. Before moving to the United States in 1996, he studied and graduated in Nuclear Engineering at Tokai University. During his school years he worked at Izakaya Shirokiya part-time. Shirokiya is one of the Izakaya chain restaurants of Monte Roza Group, which is one of the most prestigious restaurant corporations in Japan. It was when and where he found his passion in the restaurant business. He started to work as service staff, then he moved to the kitchen to learn to work as a cook. After that, he worked at the Prince Hotel Group, which is where he learned the high-end formality of table manners and hospitality.
Once arriving in the United States, he began his career as a Sushi Chef at a small sushi bar called TAKA SUSHI in Santa Monica, CA, where he discovered his love for cooking delicious dishes with fish. He didn’t realise that becoming a sushi chef was the perfect dream job for him. It allowed him to fulfill the desire to cook and serve the guests at the same time. Over the years, he worked at many prestigious sushi bars in Los Angeles. But it wasn’t until he had the opportunity to work [for seven years] as the Executive Sushi Chef at Tengu in Westwood, California that he mastered and developed his own sushi making style.
During his tenure at Tengu, he strove to focus on becoming a bridge: To some guests, ‘sushi’ means California Rolls and Spicy Tuna Rolls while to others, especially Japanese people, “鮨(すし)(“sushi” in Japanese)’ means nigiri of fresh or marinated fish. Masa loved both and he wanted all guests to experience the joy of dining. So he started to learn how to adjust his cooking based on guest preferences and whenever an opportunity to introduce traditional dishes arose, he never failed to take the chance. Becoming a bridge from ‘sushi’ to ‘鮨” was an ultimate joy and mission to Masa. While his focus was always on the guests in front of him, he came across an opportunity to participate in the Mutual Trading Co. Sushi Chef Competition in 2008. Without any expectations, he was awarded the 2nd place prize among 20 other sushi chefs. And in 2009, the same organisation awarded him with “Certificate of Appreciation” for the efforts of presenting Japanese Food & Culture in the US.
Even after Tengu closed its doors at the end of 2010, Masa had the opportunity to to learn Omotenashi. Omotenashi is the highest form of hospitality that originated from the Tea Ceremony in Japan. The host provides the guests the best experience by not only accommodating the dishes and tea, but also curating the ceremony even before the guests’ arrival and even after their departure. He developed his skills and new cooking techniques at SHU (Sushi House Unico) from 2014 – 2016 before he was hired at Jonathan Club, his current job since May 2017.
Jonathan Club is one of the well acclaimed private clubs in the world. Even though Masa was not quite familiar with the world of private clubs, soon enough he found out that it was a perfect set up to perform Omotenashi. The club’s focus of the culinary department is ingredients and members’ experiences rather than making a profit. This was where Masa met Ōra King salmon and fell in love with it at the first sight (or should it be said the first tasting?). He was so impressed with the Ōra King stories and passion in their work to provide the best. He also felt it as his duty to convey the producer’s spirits to the dishes he creates. So many members whom he’s had the opportunity to serve Ōra King Salmon as well as Ōra King TYEE love it!
Today, he keeps striving at his best to create the best value given current circumstances and pursuing his passion with the ambition to improve himself even more and train successors of the next generation.