One on One With Tokyo’s Mr. Shin

written by Fred Mwithiga 30th June 2015
 One On One With Tokyo's Mr. Shin

Philip Shin is not your ordinary sushi chef. For starters, he is one of the only licensed chefs in Japanese food in the country and contrary to widespread belief, Mr. Shin is not Japanese. He is Korean and the owner and head chef of one of the finest Japanese restaurants in the country – Tokyo Restaurant.

His journey began back in Korea. South Korean law dictates that all men of legal age are to be conscripted and hence the young Philip enlisted as a chef in the army. He later became a chef at the Paradise Hotel in Busan before being transferred to the Safari Park Hotel in Kenya where he worked as the head chef for six years at their Japanese restaurant – Chiyo.

Every chef dreams of owning a restaurant and Mr. Shin successfully turned his into reality. In 2001, Tokyo Restaurant was born and 14 years down the line, it has become the Japanese cuisine capital of Kenya. Mr. Shin is a respected figure in the restaurant business. In fact, 70% of the chefs who profess in Japanese cuisine in the country have actually been trained under his watchful eye.

Being the sensei that he is, you might think that all he has for dinner is raw fish and a cup of sake. However, for the 20 years he’s been in town, Mr. Shin has come to appreciate our local cuisine. He particularly likes ugali, sukuma wiki, nyama choma and githeri.

Away from that, he has noted an increased interest and curiosity in Japanese cuisine from Kenyans since 2001; it is not yet everyone’s cup of tea but Kenyans are increasingly embracing it. In his kitchen, he is so particular that no one else is allowed to use his sashimi knife apart from him. He further explains that with sushi, presentation and freshness are key. It should neither smell nor be slimy and should always be the right size for one bite.


The reason why Tokyo is a cut above the rest is simple; their love for adventure and inspiration from foreign concepts has kept their establishment vibrant and upbeat. Where else would you find Sushi and Speed Dating? Or learn how to pair your sushi with champagne?

They pride themselves on doing everything right and being different from the rest. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a cocktail as you bring your day to a close or for a sweet date night spot, the beauty, simplicity and aura of Tokyo will win you over.

Most important to Philip is the relationship with his clients. That genuine care and attention for them has always driven him and has kept them coming back. If you’re ever at Tokyo, you will see him checking in on patrons, sharing a joke or two and sometimes a little history on his culture. After all, a few wise words always go well with your sake.

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