Acclaimed Mesa chef opens first hand sushi roll bar The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Acclaimed Mesa chef opens first hand sushi roll bar

Acclaimed Mesa chef opens first hand sushi roll bar
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By Christopher Boan
Tribune Staff Writer

Mesa Chef Jared Lupin was exposed to the world of ramen and various types of sushi during a tour of Korea as a member of the Army more than a decade ago.

Lupin, who was born in Torrance, California, was raised in various parts of Arizona, playing youth hockey and living what he calls the ‘hockey punk’ lifestyle.

He found his life’s calling in Korea, where he studied culinary arts after completing his tour of duty.

This calling allowed Lupin to learn a crash-course in the various forms of ramen, a hearty soup usually consisting of marrow stock and various meats and vegetables.

Lupin also learned the art form of rolling numerous types of sushi rolls, which helped him launch a career as a chef in the Valley upon returning stateside in 2005.

His latest endeavor might be his boldest, as Lupin embarks on the state’s first-ever ‘hand roll’ sushi restaurant, called Dori Hand Roll Bar, which he opened last week in Phoenix’s Camelback district.

Hand rolls are just as they sound, as they’re sushi rolls and customized, made to order to the diner’s tastes, featuring an assortment of meats and assorted fillers.

The concept is bold, as it invites diners to sit at a bar with their own hand roll chef, offering an intimate dining setting from the chef directly to the customer.

The restaurant at the Camelback Colonnade, near 20th Street and Camelback in Phoenix, will feature an assortment of specialty cocktails and drinks, including teas infused with various types of alcohol.

The concept is the collaboration of Los Angeles-based Ahi Mahi Group and Arizona’s Wade Foster Hospitality, with Lupin designing the menu and various culinary touches.

Lupin’s pedigree is as long as it is impressive, having been the ramen chef at Republic Ramen, Umami Ramen and Shady Park, where he won ‘Best Ramen in Phoenix’ in 2019.

The longtime chef sees an opportunity to establish noodles and hand roll sushi as Phoenix’s next culinary calling card.

“It’s always pizza, tacos, sushi and burritos; but I’m thinking noodles are one of those things people really jump into,” Lupin said. “So, just the relatability of what people knew here, which was just packaged ramen

“Dori’s kind of my chance to show people what I want to do with ramen and to showcase my style.”

Lupin’s decision to focus his menu at Dori around hand rolls stemmed from a desire to make eating more of a social experience.

He wants diners at Dori to have an ‘a-ha’ moment towards the culinary style he presents.

He hopes they enjoy the food, the drinks and the interpersonal aspect of having a personal chef at their table, catering to their tastes and culinary preferences.

“But really, the hand roll is the push I always felt was more intimate than sushi,” Lupin said.

“People gravitate toward sushi and umami and sashimi, but I think hand rolls are underestimated, it’s a personal moment where I’m making it there. The rice is there, the fish is there, we talked about it, you ate it, it’s a moment.”

The 38-year-old chef expects Dori to shatter people’s preconceived notions about Asian food, harkening back to his days roaming the streets of Seoul and Kyoto as an aspiring chef.

“It’s more of that style where you’re walking around those cities and you hit a vendor and there’s a little stall, and you think, ‘Oh, what’s this?’,” Lupin said. “And you try all the little bits and you move on. And it’s really what it is, amid a food setting I feel.”

Lupin wants to transport people to those culinary settings he got to know so well during his time in Asia, allowing them to explore their culinary horizons while having a great experience at the same time.

“It’s a good chunk of stuff that reminded me of when I’d hit the street and go eat some spare ribs when I was in Korea,” Lupin said.

“I would go find the tempura guy and the guy would just have a tray of it and would fry everything, put it in the bag and you’d walk out. We want those little things too. We want you to get it in more of a dining setting.

But, I think just putting people in this place and that moment is going to kind of unfold on its own. Whatever that moment is, everything’s going to push it and amplify it a bit more. That’s what our goal is really.”

He expects Dori to embody the aspects of dining establishments that he frequented, inviting customers to get lost in the moment and enjoy a culinary setting, unlike anything they’ve experienced.

Lupin believes the authenticity and socially-centered setup will allow diners to shirk any reservations they’d have about expanding their culinary palette, making it a one-of-a-kind experience for all involved.

“We’re using banana leaves, we’re using bamboo, we’re using a lot of little things in a style where we’re making it dark but we’re also elevating these art aspects, such as maybe a graffiti style,” Lupin said. “…We want to create that environment where you step into your little booth and there’s a little curtain and you’re there and your server kind of explains things, and from then on it’s all about the experience.”  γ

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