Shogo Kishikawa always wanted to be a chef when he was young. It might not come as much of a surprise for people who know him since his father, Taka Kishikawa, has spent three decades working as a sushi chef.
“I would read books and ask [my dad] about [cooking] things,” said Shogo, who took inspiration for his culinary ambitions from everywhere, but especially from his chef father. “My dad made the food very artistic.”
Now, Shogo is following in his father’s footsteps as the head chef in charge of creating Dock Asian Eatery’s ramen menu. In fact, father and son now work side-by-side in the kitchen at the Bushwick restaurant which boasts three separate specialty menus serving delicious Thai, sushi, and ramen plates.
Before their foray into the culinary business together, Shogo had already been honing his skills as a ramen chef. Over the last 10 years, the 27-year-old chef has been serving up brothy bowls of goodness at places like Naruto Ramen on the Upper East Side and Santouka in New Jersey.
When it came time for Taka to open up his own restaurant with Thai Chef Amornrat Aksaranan, who also co-owns Dock Asian Eatery, the veteran cook looked no further than his offspring.
“Because I’m a sushi chef, I didn’t know much about ramen,” Chef Taka continued, “Shogo’s work is good.” While his dad was confident in his son’s work in the kitchen, Shogo needed some time to convince himself.
“At that point I already had 10 years of experience as a chef but I was still nervous. Working with your parents can be uncomfortable,” Chef Shogo quipped. He admitted that he was afraid that he would mess up; he didn’t want to let his father down.
But joining his father’s exciting new pan-Asian restaurant as head chef of the ramen menu was certainly an opportunity of a lifetime, and so Shogo took the job—and the pressure that came with it.
The result is a beautiful and expansive menu list at Dock Asian Eatery which boasts a hearty ramen section under the budding chef. Guests can choose between seven different types of ramen, but the spicy miso ramen and the tonkotsu ramen are clearly the top crowd pleasers. The latter is Chef Shogo’s own personal favorite, inspired by what he calls the best bowl of ramen he’s ever tasted from a small family-run restaurant he frequents when he visits Japan. More importantly, the popularity of the eatery’s ramen selection has clearly given the young chef a boost in confidence.
While Chef Shogo is responsible for the restaurant’s ramen selection, his father Taka takes delicate care to ensure the best quality sushi and sashimi come out of the kitchen. He also curates the hot plate menu which features Japanese dishes like salmon teriyaki and tuna steak (which you can replicate at home with a customized recipe from Chef Taka here).
When Chef Taka was still working as a chef in Japan, he would also cook home every so often. Being a sushi chef and an avid fisher, his dish of choice was typically fresh fish, seasoned and cooked to perfection in a variety of ways.
Even though Shogo had begun taking a special interest in his father’s line of work from an early age, surprisingly, he never had an interest in learning to master sushi, his father’s specialty. However, it all worked out perfectly in the end.
“I was so happy when I learned he wanted to be a professional chef because I was looking for a ramen cook for us,” Chef Taka joked. But working together as father-son has its ups and downs. The two admit that working with family is not easy. For Taka, being the executive chef and having his son in the kitchen with him—as is with a lot of parents—means he has higher expectations for his son’s work than others in the kitchen.
It may sound daunting to have your dad watch you over your shoulder, but Chef Shogo has learned to take it as a valuable learning opportunity.
“It’s a good experience because he’s my dad, so he will tell me things that other chefs wouldn’t,” Shogo explained.
No matter what, working together as father and son has made their bond even stronger. While the experience has made Shogo a better chef thanks to the guidance from his father, it has also allowed Taka to see how genuine his son is in his cooking.
“Even though sometimes it can be difficult, I know I can put my trust in my son,” Taka said.
Dock Asian Eatery
22 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237 (off the Jefferson St stop in the L train)
All images courtesy of José Alvarado.
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