Independent Shopper: Mattia Aranini, Sushi On Jones

05 May 2022, 07:10 AM
  • Mattia Aranini, head chef at Sushi On Jones, discusses the importance of seasonality and the Italian influences in his food
Independent Shopper: Mattia Aranini, Sushi On Jones

I was born Rome, Italy, in 1994. I chose to be a chef as my grandfather and my mother were both chefs of two restaurants, and they started to bring me along to my mum’s restaurant when I was 14 to show me her work.

A Vietnamese chef showed me my very first cooking techniques and recipes of Asian food, and I fell in love with Asian food from that moment – especially when he showed me what sushi was. At that time in Italy nobody knew anything about sushi.

When I turned 20, I decided to move to London and study with real Japanese sushi chefs, which is what I have done for the last eight years of my life. Now, my sushi service and omakase menu is a mix of the chefs that taught me the real traditional sushi omakase service with a little hint of Italian – for instance, adding lemon zest, truffle or even basil. This keeps the traditional taste of the experience while giving a little twist here and there.

Sushi on Jones is a project born and developed in New York. It offers an affordable approach to a very traditional way of eating sushi – the “omakase” – which literally means “I leave it up to you”. Though this, customers can taste very good quality ingredients like fresh wasabi root from Japan, Wagyu beef, caviar and sea urchin, while keeping it affordable for everyone.

The restaurant is an extension of this beautiful idea, which I have supported from day one when this job was offered to me. We are located at the very centre of London in King’s Cross, a five-minute walking distance from the underground station on Goods Way, inside a beautiful music venue.

All my products, including fish and vegetables alike, are sourced in England, Ireland or Scotland. Fish like salmon are from a farm in Scotland and my mackerel, seabass, seabream and others, like squid or cuttlefish, are from the beautiful Cornish side of this country. I couldn’t ask for a better source.

I meet our producers personally each month to check for availability and in-season products that I can use in the restaurant. I have met and discovered each one through my eight years working as a chef here in England.

The menu planning starts at Billingsgate market fish vendor, where I search for products to use for the menu. I select the best and most reliable vendor that can always deliver the same quality and freshness for all the products.

I want to keep my ingredients local as a matter of cost, sustainability and because I can choose the fish going to market. Throughout the restaurant, I only use one pre-made product: soy sauce. All other ingredients are strictly made in house. Lately, after falling in love with the curing and ageing process, I’ve used different techniques to offer very intense and different tastes on my omakase sushi experience.

My favourite time of the year is winter because it is when the fish have a particular quantity of fat that makes them even better to eat and to create with. This helps to create my signature dish on the menu – yellowtail belly cured in kombu kelp and served with thin-sliced truffle from Italy.

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