As a young chef in Hawaii, Chef Yuhi Fujinaga met Chef Masaharu Morimoto of the eponymous Disney Springs restaurant. As the restaurant’s executive chef, Chef Yuhi now oversees day-to-day-operations at Morimoto Asia.
What cuisine is your specialty?
The restaurant specializes in modern Pan-Asian Cuisine inspired by Chef Morimoto. My background is Japanese, and I specialize in many different cuisines. I’m trained in classic French and northern Basque cuisines, as well as seafood.
What’s your favorite local restaurant other than your own?
I recently enjoyed Prato in Winter Park. I went with my family, and all of us had a wonderful meal. We all enjoyed their house pastas, and modern share plates.
What’s your go-to meal at home?
My wife makes an amazing mabo-tofu. Her version contains ground pork, tofu, and tobanjan (spicy chili bean sauce). Coming home late night and having a bowl of that over rice is a special at-home treat from my wife.
Where do you shop locally for interesting ingredients?
I don’t do much shopping other than at the grocery store. Recently I had a chance to visit East End Market which is like a mini version of Chelsea Market in NYC. I was also able to visit Crooked Can Brewery, and had a great time checking out The Local Butcher and Market while I was there.
Which kitchen gadget could you not live without?
My knives, mori-bashi (plating chopsticks) and spoons are my essential tools, but there is nothing that I could not live without. As chefs we are always creative, and we find many ways to “make it happen.”
What was your favorite bagged lunch as a kid?
Onigiri/musubi (rice balls). Growing up in Hawaii, I enjoyed great food especially at home. My mom was an amazing cook. Her onigiri always meant a lot to me. It eats well—anytime. It’s one of the few items that lasts a long time, and also tastes great hours later. It’s a traditional bagged lunch in Japan.
What’s your most guilty junk-food pleasure?
My once-a-month guilty pleasure is going through Taco Bell drive through. Growing up in Hawaii we never had Tex-Mex food at home, so it was pretty normal for us to be hitting up Taco Bell. As a grown up, and a chef, I still crave it occasionally.
What 3 things are in your fridge at all times?
Cold beer. Iced coffee (Cold Brew). Water. Why? Because I can’t make any of them, even if I wanted to.