Nobuo Fukuda on What He Misses About Japan and the Difference Between a Japanese and an American Chef

Nobuo at Nobuo
Nobuo Fukuda
Nobuo at Teeter House
622 East Adams Street, Phoenix

See also:
-- Tastemaker #59: Nobuo Fukuda
-- 13 Favorite Cold Dishes in Metro Phoenix

This is part one of my interview with Nobuo Fukuda, chef-owner of Nobuo at Teeter House in Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix. Come back Tuesday when Fukuda discusses American sushi and Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Nobuo's work station behind the bar

As a kid growing up in Tokyo in the '60s and '70s, Nobuo Fukuda didn't learn cooking at his mother's knee, and he certainly didn't dream of sushi. His mother, a teacher and Noh actor, supported the family while his retired older father played Mr. Mom, doing such a pathetic job in the kitchen that Nobuo and his sister began making their own obento (boxed lunch) to save face at school. "We got in the habit of being in the kitchen," Fukuda says, although the experience by no means inspired him to become a chef.

He did, however, aspire to move to the States, an idea that took hold of him at age 10, when he saw Neil Armstrong's moon rock at the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka. "I thought America was great," Fukuda says, and a decade later, he moved to Phoenix. Why here? Because he knew getting a green card would be much easier if he chose a city with a small Japanese population.

He immediately landed a gig as a teppanyaki chef at the original Benihana on Scottsdale Road in Old Town, admitting there really wasn't much serious cooking involved. In 1984, he moved to Ayako of Tokyo, where he stayed another four years, before migrating in 1988 to Fred Yamada's hot new sushi spot called Yamakasa.

Location Info

Nobuo at Teeter House

622 E. Adams St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

It's "Jiro Dreaks of Sushi" not "Hiro Dreams of Sushi"


My wife took me to his Sunday Brunch for Father's Day....not sure there is a better value in town for $50 (included wine). We plan to make it a regular Sunday meal. He prepared and served everything himself. Very impressive!


@jliven23 I agree! Unbelievably beautiful, unusual and delicious. The typical resort brunch pales in comparison.

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