How Sushi Chef Nozomu Abe Spends His Sundays

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Nozomu Abe, the famous sushi chef, remembers telling his family in elementary school that he wanted to make pizza for a living.

But the fish, it seems, was his fate. His family ran a seafood business in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture, where he grew up. After culinary training in Sapporo, Mr. Abe moved to Tokyo and learned how to make sushi in the Edomae style, which was developed centuries ago before refrigeration as a way to dry fish before serving.

He moved to the United States in 2007. After working at Midtown’s Sushiden, he opened Sushi Noz, an Upper East Side restaurant, with partners in 2018. In 2020, he won a Michelin star.

Although he works a little on Sundays, Mr Abe, 39, said he was trying to relax as much as possible before he and his wife, Nao Abe, 30, had their first child.

They live in Long Island City, Queens.

BEANS AND BREAD I usually wake up around 8:30 or 9am, which is when I normally wake up on weekdays. Nao usually bakes us natto bread for breakfast, which is fermented soybeans, with mayonnaise and eggs on shokupan, or Japanese milk bread. It’s my favourite.

AQUEDUCT Before I start working, I usually swim for about 30 minutes, then I go to the sauna or jacuzzi. I could repeat this several times throughout the morning. It’s my attempt to clear my head and meditate before my day gets busier.

ROOF NOTES I’m starting to think about the menu for Monday and generally the week before Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market opens later in the day. I usually go to the roof terrace of my apartment building to jot down my ideas in a notebook, make a wish list and write out buying instructions for my fish broker.

THE HOOD I live in Long Island City, which is a growing and evolving part of New York. It’s not historical, say, like Harlem, but it’s changing in its own way, much like me in the United States. There are a lot of Asians living here, which I like, but there could be more grocery stores and restaurants.

MORE SKATE PARKS I loved hip-hop and skateboarding when I was younger. Both were very American to me, and I devoured the culture and the style. Now I’m a little more discreet. Because of my job, I can’t go to the skate park anymore because I don’t want to hurt my hands, but sometimes I jump on my board to get supplies at the corner store.

DON’T BUY THE MAGURO At noon, my fish broker starts emailing or texting. I go for coffee or lunch with my wife and we try to stay outside as much as possible. She usually reads while I go back and forth with my broker. You never know what’s available, so I trust my broker when he tells me not to buy the maguro because the quality is inferior or the uni is too expensive. Then I have to redesign the menu amidst a deluge of information. It’s stressful and it never ends.

GRILLING WITH FRIENDS My building has a lot of amenities, which I take advantage of. I like to use the grill to barbecue. I often take home what’s left over from the restaurant, like the shrimp or the kama, the necklace, of fish. I just use salt and pepper to season it. Occasionally we will invite friends to join us. Today we received the restaurant staff to celebrate the upcoming wedding of a business partner.

TIME TOGETHER My wife and I could play pool or walk down to the river to enjoy the sunset. There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation ahead of the birth of our first child, so we try to spend as much time together as possible.

EASY DINNERS Because making sushi has a lot of rules, or things you’re not allowed to do, I only cook what’s easy at home. For dinner, we cook a lot of Chinese or Italian dishes. I love that New York grocery stores always have fresh pasta to buy.

THOUGHTS DON’T STOP My wife usually chooses which TV shows to watch. Recently we watched “Who Killed Sara?” on Netflix. We could relax listening to soft music, like Jack Johnson. More loud music for me. I’m in bed anywhere between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. because I’m always thinking about our menu and tweaking it. It’s like you’re always on schedule.

Sunday Routine readers can follow Nozomu Abe on Instagram @noznyc or his restaurant @sushinoznyc.

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