Sushi Cakes from Taberu St. Louis are a savory twist on the traditional birthday treat.
A few years ago, while chatting with a friend that doesn't eat sweets, chef Heidi Hamamura accepted a challenge that would change the way St. Louisans celebrate their birthdays.
"She said to me, 'It would be so baller if you could make me a sushi cake,' so I told her I was going to make her one," Hamamura says. "I used to make sushi pizzas at my dad's restaurant [Sansui] and have made sushi in the shape of Christmas sweaters and menorahs. For this, I decided to take the rice and layer it with guacamole and other different things so it wouldn't be just plain rice. A couple of people saw it and said that they wanted one, so now I do about six or seven a year."
Though the general public has only become aware of Hamamura's stunning sushi platters since the beginning of the pandemic, the talented chef has been creating them for much longer. Previously, her business consisted of country club clients, for whom she would work alongside her father, Naomi "Hama" Hamamura, to create elaborate displays. However, when clubs shut down and that business dried up, Hamamura decided to extend her offerings to the public through social media.
It didn't take long for that business to take off, and Hamamura found herself in high demand overnight. As soon as word of her sushi cakes spread, the demand made her realize she was indeed onto something.
"All of the wraps for the cakes are raw fish, but I can also do veggies and rainbow carrots," Hamamura says. "Every cake is different because I create them custom based on what each of my clients asks for. Some really like tuna or inari, or some don't eat sashimi; my clients tell me if they have any allergies and what they don't like, and then I go from there. There is no menu; I do omakase only."
Even outside of her growing custom sushi business, it's been a big year for Hamamura. In November, she competed in the World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas in the competition's seafood category, and just after the first of the year, she launched the brand Taberu St. Louis
for her catering business, pop-ups and future endeavors.
"I'm working on a few projects right now," Hamamura says. "It might be a year or so, but I have plans to take this to another level. I have a great opportunities and a great team that is helping me and supporting me. I'm a little nervous, but they keep saying that I am going to make this happen, so I'll have to make it happen."
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