Hisashi “Nao” Ichimura is the Executive Chef of Azuki Sushi, a modern sushi restaurant in Banker’s Hill. Nao grew up in Tokyo, Japan. He moved to San Diego in 1984 to pursue a career as a sushi chef. Nao is best known for his unique and artistic omakase courses that he creates with the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Nao started working in a kitchen at the age of 16 in Tokyo with a dream of opening his own restaurant one day. At the age of 17, he worked under Susumu Takagi as an apprentice to become a sushi chef. At 19, he moved to San Diego to pursue his dreams.
In 1985 Nao and his partner Akira Nagamizo opened Sushi Bar Nippon, one of the first sushi restaurant in San Diego. In 2006, they sold their restaurant. Shortly after, Nao opened Azuki Sushi in August 2008 with business partner Shihomi Borillo.
At Azuki Sushi, Nao is currently working on a menu that focuses on sustainability. Along with his partner and creative director Shihomi Borillo, Nao intends to raise awareness for organically grown products from a maintainable environment. Nao’s focus is to respect the ingredients with their natural flavors, which is the heart of Japanese cooking. He aims to use ingregients according to their season in order to capture their flavor at their peak.
Shihomi Borillo is the Creative Director and a partner at Azuki Sushi in San Diego. She was born and raised in Yokohama, Japan. At the age of 16, she started working for a popular ramen restaurant in Yokohama where she took nearly every position in the business. This is where she found her passion, to be in a hospitality industry.
After finishing high school, Shihomi studied at San Diego State University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management and in Finance. While in college, Shihomi worked downtown at Sushi Bar Nippon where she met her future business partner, sushi chef Nao Ichimura.
In 2008, Shihomi opened her first restaurant Azuki Sushi with chef Nao. At Azuki, Shihomi co-created a menu that focuses on sustainability. She intends to raise awareness for maintainable and organically grown products.