Executive Chef/Partner Mark Garcia is bringing his exclusive approach to omakase from Gaijin to Kissaki. A Chicago-native, Garcia began a decade long mentorship with Chef Kaze Chan of Sushi-san, who has a 30-year history of opening innovative and wildly successful sushi restaurants (Heat, Mirai Sushi, Kaze Sushi, Macku Sushi), while working at Sushi Samba in 2003. Chef Mark has worked in a variety of service positions and in numerous restaurant/hotel kitchens (Waldorf Astoria, The Wit & J.W. Marriott Chicago) throughout his nearly two decades in the hospitality industry. His broad experience lends him an understanding of the kitchen/server/staff relationship and the dynamics that go into running a successful restaurant. In 2014, Chef Mark was able to rejoin Chef Kaze and Michelin-starred chef Jeff Ramsey to collaborate and subsequently develop the menu and design for the sushi bar in Momotaro. This multi-dimensional sushi, izakaya, and bar spot quickly became one of Chicago’s hottest restaurants and remains open today.
In October 2016, Chef Mark debuted his modern omakase at Gaijin in Astoria Queens. The fitting name “Gaijin” literally translates to “outsider” in Japanese, as Mark considers himself an outsider whose deep appreciation of the culture and craft ultimately led him to open the Astoria restaurant. The term “outsider” is also a nod to Chef Mark’s experience overcoming external doubts about his place in the sushi world. Rather than giving in to the doubts and spite, Chef Mark embraced his role as an outsider and used the doubt as motivation to get him to where he is today. Now, Mark has assembled a team to unveil Kissaki on Bowery, where he presides over an elegant, 27-seat counter with 16 seats reserved for the omakase menu and the remaining 11 seats for cocktails. Here, Mark and his team have created a unique and intimate dining experience that honors the Japanese tradition and the art of the knife. Like craftsmen and artists with a practiced hand, Kissaki delivers precise dishes that tell a story.
Kyoto born Tetsu Yagi was an economics major that dreamed of being a sushi chef, one who could combine a classical Japanese culinary sensibility with that of the modern demands of New York City’s denizens. Yagi’s culinary interests led him to join in the opening of MEGU in 2004, where he developed his style. In 2007, Yagi joined the team of the renowned New York City restaurant NOBU. Yagi’s unyielding devotion to Japanese culture and cuisine led him to return several times to his hometown Kyoto where he explored the intricacies of Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine. In 2010 Yagi went on a “sushi sabbatical” to work at one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Japan, SUSHI YAMANE in Osaka. A whirlwind Japanese noodle making trip in 2013 lead Yagi to study under some of Japan’s for most noodle masters. Yagi's culinary expertise extends to handmade Soba, Udon, and Ramen noodles.
Chef Yagi’s culinary prowess, sense of design and charisma presented him with the opportunity of working with famed chef David Bouley at BrushStroke in 2010 in New York City. In 2012 Yagi further cultivated his artisanal Sushi style at innovative SUSHI OF GARI, consistently voted New Yorks best Sushi restaurant. Visitors will be captivated by Chef Yagi’s brilliant style and stunned by the artistry of the sushi he creates.
At 18-years-old, Andrea Martinez left Mexico City to visit Chicago for vacation and ended up staying. She loved the pace and people so much that the city became her new home. She was first introduced to culinary while working at a gastro-pub before meeting Chef Mark Garcia who offered her a job as a sushi assistant in 2015 at Momotaro, which is a multi-dimensional sushi spot that quickly became one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago and is still open today. While at Momotaro, Andrea assisted Chef Mark with making his garnishes for his nigiri and plating the final dish.
In 2016, she left with Mark to move to New York and open Gaijin in Astoria. Since this restaurant was smaller, she had more time to try new things. At Kissaki, she will continue to assist Chef Mark with preparing his nigiri for service. She hopes to continue to learn and grow and one day be a sushi chef heading a counter under her own creative direction.