Endo Kazutoshi, Sushi Master

Endo Kazutoshi is a third generation sushi master, specialising in the centuries-old Edomae style of sushi – a technique particular to Tokyo. Endo is the Culinary Director of the Creative Restaurant Group and Founder of Sumi and Endo At The Rotunda – an all-time MISSING favourite, due to re-open late Summer after a planned redesign.


We spoke with Endo at Sumi in Notting Hill during the renovation.


Paul Missing (PM): Where did your food journey begin, Endo?


Endo Kazutoshi (EK):  Actually, it started before I was born. My grandfather opened a sushi restaurant in 1940, so I’m a third generation of sushi masters. When I was born, it was already my destiny, so I had no choice actually!

When I was 5 years old, my mother started to educate me about chefs.


PM: And this was in Tokyo?


EK:  Yes, I was born next to Tokyo, in Yokohama.


PM: And your Grandfather’s restaurant was there?


EK:  Yes, it still is, my younger brother took it over.


PM: Oh wow, and how many siblings do you have? Is it just the two of you?


EK:  I’m one of three – my big sister isn’t a chef though, it’s just me and my brother as the chefs.


PM: I see – and why London?


EK:  The long and short of it? One of my ex bosses really wanted me to come to London and open something here with him. So we negotiated and agreed on three years, because I was really comfortable I have stayed.

I wanted to innovate and create something different. This neighbourhood and this road is full of Japanese legends, very high end, but I wanted this restaurant to feel very ‘homey’, easy to come, easy to eat.

PM: Absolutely. I remember when we ate at the Rotunda and we were talking about the fisherman and I know how important produce is to you. Do you still work very closely with the fishermen and your other producers?


EK:  Absolutely. I really focus my time on Rotunda at the moment. 90% of the produce is local (UK produce). For example, micro herbs are grown in Acton, the fish is 70% from Cornwall and Devon, the shelled Scallops are from Scotland. The vegetables are all 90% from here too. Having produce from this island is important. That’s my policy.


PM: I agree entirely. That’s partially behind why we’re doing this campaign and choosing people such as yourself.


The shoot is momentarily interrupted by an unaware team member, to everyone’s entertainment…


EK:  So… What was I saying?? Yes. It’s something I really respect, a local farmer. The second is how we engage with the produce, it’s up to us. That’s something for me that is a very key point, to respect the local aspect.


PM: It’s the same for us. The manufacturing is all done in Central London, our buttons are produced for us in the Midlands, our labels the same, our swing tags are printed again in the Midlands and our fabric is woven especially for us in Ireland.


EK:  That’s what I really love. I love the British craft.


PM: And that’s why we feel such a synergy about what we both do. You’re using the best produce and try and keep it local, and you promote it.


EK:  That’s why I was so happy to collaborate together. It’s the same thing. It’s a great product.


PM: Thank you! So the jacket you are wearing is one of only two produced to date. It’s the first time we’ve combined colours and textures of linen in one garment, so I’m relieved to hear that you like it!


EK:  Oh really! That’s so cool. I really like it. That’s really amazing.


PM:  Thank you.

PM: So in your kitchen, what is the most essential kitchen tool you have?


EK:  I’m not joking, but I’m a sushi chef, so the most important thing is my hands. My hands are the most important tools – if my hands don’t work I can’t make sushi. For example, twice a week I go for a hand massage. And I never cut the nail, only shape them every day, every morning. Look, my hands are in such good condition.


PM: They’re so soft, and no cuts! Do you have a hand cream you swear by?


EK:  Yes. Every night I use Aesop hand cream – I love Aesop – and I wear gloves to sleep.


PM: That’s impressive.


EK:  My master, he’s 98 years old, he started that when he was 30, so for over 60 years he’s been doing it. Because with sushi, your hands are the most important thing.  I used to play guitar before I became a sushi chef and my master told me there are three things I can’t do, one is snowboarding – I used to do snowboarding, so sadly I had to stop. The second is guitar, which I stopped and the third is not to drink and make sushi. So many sushi chefs do and it’s so dangerous. So, my hands, they really are so important.


PM: It makes perfect sense It’s the perfect answer.

PM: Do you have a favourite dish that you prepare?


EK:  Actually, I call it my business card. It’s a tuna hand roll. But it’s with my own rice, my own seaweed. The wasabi comes from near Mountain Fuji. The tuna comes from my favourite farmer in Aomori and just all combined together.

That’s incredible. The seaweed is in the top 10%. Japan has the five biggest seaweed farmers. The first season, they have the top 10% and bring it to the chefs of the world. Then 10 people choose the top 10%, and that’s mine.


PM: That sounds almost like the olive story for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


EK:  Yes, I say 90% meaning local produce because the last 10% is my own rice from my own rice farm, my own seaweed from my seaweed farm.


PM: I see. So, do you have a favourite restaurant that’s not yours?


EK:  That’s so difficult. Actually, I love the East London area. The produce is nice, bars are great, atmosphere is amazing. Everytime I’m in London for two weeks I’ll go back. The local produce is important there too. When I first worked outside of Japan I was working in Spain. They do some Spanish techniques, small plates and I love that. But I really like when somewhere is comfortable, easy, no need for a tie, just good food.


PM: I so agree: I think it’s really important people feel comfortable when they eat out.  I think some of the higher end Michelin starred restaurants can sometimes struggle to find the right balance between amazing food and relaxed ambiance.


EK:  There are a lot like that in East London. Da Terra is one of my favourites.

I really want to go to The Waterhouse Project, I’ve not been but wow – it looks amazing.  Last year we were in Ireland for a gastronomy festival and heard Gabriel Waterhouse speak and wow, he was amazing. But I live in Ealing so I’ll have to move East!


But the high-end restaurants, I love, but I also really love more local, the atmosphere is so important. And I think it’s so important to champion that local produce.


PM: And I think that’s what makes the Endo restaurant so special for me – the perfect combination of incredible food, atmosphere and experience.


EK:  And it’s like that with clothes as well. It looks nice, great, but if it’s uncomfortable, it’s not as good. And this (touching the jacket) is really, really nice.

Endo wears the M02 Cadet/Klein Three Pocket Jacket.


23rd April, 2024



157 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2RS



Tuesday to Saturday
12:00 – 14:30
17:30 – 22:00

12:00 – 14:30
17:30 – 21:30


Photography: Izy Dixon

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