Finding gourmet sushi in the midst of rural Australia was a pleasant surprise to say the least. Our friend Jess, who lives in Tasmania, recommended we pay Masaaki’s Sushi a visit and we’re so glad we did.
Masaaki’s shop may be small in size, but it is bursting with quality (and people).. you literally have to wait outside the door while the party before you makes their sushi selections. You see the day’s fresh rolls lined up beautifully under the glass, with Masaaki and his small crew working hard in the kitchen behind it.
The magic behind Masaaki’s success is as powerful as it is plain to see–he’s mixed his masterful experience with the freshest local ingredients, a solid crew, and the joy of doing something you really love to do. Simple goodness.
We caught Masaaki on his lunch break on a sunny afternoon last week, and his smile and sushi put warmth in our hearts and bellies.
It was quiet and I found that many people had never had sushi before, which was very interesting. I gave sushi to everybody who asked, now there are many sushi fans here in Geeveston.
How did this all start?
At the beginning it was very quiet but now many local people are supporting us, we’re very busy. We are only open Fridays and Saturdays but we have to work more on the preparation side, we spend a lot of days organizing. It’s sometimes very difficult to run the sushi shop but I’m very happy and I’m enjoying myself.
Why did you open your shop here in Geeveston?
Because my partner, Lucy, lives here. Her Father owns the jewelry shop next door and he suggested to me that the space next to his shop was empty. At first I thought it would be difficult as it’s very different food for the local people. I did the sushi store at the Tasmanian Food Festival 2009 and it went very well. It was busy, so I thought maybe this will be okay! That’s why it all started – slowly, slowly making 5 rolls a day and nobody came. It was quiet and I found that many people had never had sushi before, which was very interesting. People were always asking, “What is this sushi?”, “What is wasabi?” so I say try! I gave sushi to everybody who asked, now there are many sushi fans here in Geeveston.
Are there other sushi shops in the area?
But this is the only sushi in the Huon Valley?
Yes, this is the only one.
We saw that you were featured on the Gourmet Farmer, how did he contact you?
It was interesting, we were at a friends birthday party and there was a camera man. The Gourmet Farmer was asking me what brought me to Tasmania, so I told him the story about meeting Lucy. He asked me about my job as a chef, at this time they were just starting filming the show. After a few weeks he contacted me asking if I was interested and I said no because I was busy! Then a few more weeks passed and they asked again. I’m very glad I did it as it was good publicity for my shop and a great experience.
Where were you living before Tasmania?
Japan. I met Lucy in Japan, where she was teaching English. I was one of her students.
So now you get to practice your English a lot…?
Well, this is a problem because she speaks Japanese perfectly so my English doesn’t really improve!
How did she learn Japanese so perfectly?
She lived there for 7 years.
Do you both go back to Japan often?
Yes, sometimes. Next week we are going! So this is the last weekend for a while. It’s lucky that you caught me here. We come back end of June.
Sushi is very popular in California, which is where I’m from [Melissa]. Your sushi looks different, do you make it special in some way compared to other chefs?
Yes, it could be that way. For me it’s not so special but I have been doing this work for almost 20 years. I’m 41 now and I started when I was 18.
Do you use fresh ingredients from Tasmania?
Oh yes. We try to get everything from this area.
It has to be local, fresh veg, that’s most important.
Your soup has been celebrated as ‘the best Miso soup you’ll ever have’ (Jessica Nicholls, 2012), what’s the secret?
Really? Oh, thank you! When we make it with crayfish, which is why it tastes very rich. You have to use fresh vegetables from around Geeveston. It has to be local, fresh veg, that’s most important.
What’s the most popular sushi roll that you make?
Tuna rolls are very special, and also prawn and avocado. Our inari (stuffed bean curd pouches) is good too! I only make maybe 6 or 7 different varieties everyday, pretty much every time we sell out. They all seem popular!
(We notice food half unwrapped on the table in-front of him) But you’re not having any for lunch today?
Where do you get a hamburger here?
Around the corner, they make very good burgers.
Do they come to you for lunch?
For more information on Masaaki and his famous sushi, please see:
20b Church Street, Geeveston, TAS.
0408 712 340
Open Friday & Saturday in Geeveston (11:30am – 6:30pm) and every Sunday at The TasFarmGate Market in Hobart
Special thanks to chef Masaaki, Cassy and Ken for making this happen.
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