Obi Sushi’s new pop-up is a safe space

Chef Shinya Hirakawa hopes Obi’s accepting atmosphere will define Detroit sushi. The pop-up will be at FRAMEbar through September.

Chef Shinya Hirakawa (left) and Obi Sushi front-of-house manager Kelly Ardito (right) at the WDET studios.

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Chef Shinya Hirakawa has been a sushi chef at some of Metro Detroit’s most iconic spots, including the legendary Noble Fish in Clawson or Ronin Sushi in Royal Oak. Now, he’s stepping out on his own with a month-long pop-up at FRAMEbar in Hazel Park with Obi Sushi.

While there may be some controversy around what is the “right” way to eat sushi, Hirakawa says he strives to create a judgment-free eating experience at Obi.

“The concept of Obi Sushi is more like a safe zone to everybody to be able to enjoy the sushi on their own terms.”

Hirakawa was born in Japan and moved to Detroit in 1995. He took classes at Wayne State University while DJing and making beats in his free time, and worked as a server at sushi restaurants to pay the bills.

Now, he has his own sushi business and is running it on his own terms.

“This is the mecca. And that’s why I want to make something distinguished. I want to say, ‘My sushi is the Michigan sushi, and I’m proud.’” — Chef Shinya Hirakawa, Obi Sushi

He disagrees with the sentiment that exclusively Asian people should prepare and serve the food at sushi restaurants.

“I want to hire anybody from any background and make people happy about it. I want to cut off that Japanese trend, and I want to challenge sushi into a more global food.”

Unlike most sushi places, Obi is 100% gluten free, substituting tamari soy sauce for regular soy sauce across the menu. Hirakawa hopes Obi’s accepting atmosphere will define Detroit sushi.

“This is the mecca. And that’s why I want to make something distinguished. I want to say, ‘My sushi is the Michigan sushi, and I’m proud.’”

The Obi Sushi pop-up will be available Wednesdays through Sundays until Sept. 4.


Listen: Hirakawa and front-of-house manager Kelly Ardito talk about what sets Obi Sushi apart.

 

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Authors

  • Sophia Jozwiak is the Digital Content and Communities Assistant for 101.9 WDET.

  • Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.