Chefs love control, and sushi chef Mori Onodera exercises about the maximum amount of control a chef can have over food served at a restaurant. He starts a typical morning buying a whole side of tuna to portion out. The day might also involve hand throwing ceramic dishes for use in his restaurant, Inn Ann, and checking on the growing and testing his own strain of rice.
For Mori, who grew up in the Iwate prefecture in Japan, a close relationship with food, farmers and suppliers is a must. He earned a Michelin star for his restaurant Mori Sushi before selling it in 2011 and pursuing other projects, namely the cultivation of rice on a farm in Uruguay.
In this episode of “Off Menu,” Mori takes Food columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson on an early morning trip to Luxe Seafood in downtown L.A. to show him the ins and outs of selecting a tuna. After that, they head to a pottery studio where Mori shows a different side of his artistic temperament — by making the plates that are used in his restaurant. Finally, they head to Mori’s restaurant, in the heart of Hollywood, where Mori shows Lucas how to break down a tuna in the way that only a master sushi chef can.
Framed against the sky, tranquil and removed, Inn Ann is a 35-seat Japanese restaurant in a remote corner of the Hollywood & Highland shopping center.
Morihiro “Mori” Onodera sold his beloved namesake sushi bar, Mori, in West L.A. nearly three years ago and has since devoted more time to one of his passion projects: rice.