I was born in Nagoya City, Japan, and moved to Osaka when I was 21. Osaka is the home of okonomiyaki, and I learned how to cook Japanese comfort food from my mom.

In 2011 I moved to the US to play basketball in EBA league. After two seasons of semi-pro career, I had a knee injury. I started working at Aoi as a line cook, and then at Toki Underground in Washington DC because I wanted to eat ramen. The old Toki OGs (especially Erik) taught me how the restaurant business is. I started working in Maketto as a line cook, and at the same time we started Uzu. Uzu means 'vortex' in Japanese. We began at Honeycomb Grocer in Union Market, and I worked at Paperhorse Ramen in Pentagon City as a manager.

Each place gave me an idea of what I wanted to do next: we opened Conbini by Uzu in Shopkeepers Gallery. Because of everybody’s help, I am here now. This is a new chapter of my life, where I will show people my version of Japanese comfort food that I grew up eating.

tips by Chef Hiroaki

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