I had the opportunity to talk to Nick George, better known as Dr. Sushi, to learn more about the background of his very own pop-up sushi service. Read on to find out what he had to say!
Tell me a little about yourself:
Nick George / 26 / SW Detroit
I like food, music, sports, and travel.
How did the idea for Dr. Sushi come about? When did you decide to share your creations with everyone?
Back in 2010, in an effort to supplement my income while I was going to school and working part-time, I put an ad on Craigslist saying that I was a “private sushi chef for hire” – I got offered a gig doing a graduation party in Grosse Pointe somehow and totally killed it. I brought my friend (who has pretty much zero kitchen experience) with me to help out and I think he saw giant dollar signs in his eyes or something. He came up with the name Dr. Sushi and everything. I ended up breaking my leg real bad a week later and then took off for Indonesia for a few months to work on a documentary project – so the whole sushi thing went on hold.
When I returned to the states penny-less, I had to come up with a new way to make money, so I put my cooking skills back to work making boxes of sushi for friends and friends of friends once a week. Word starting getting out around Wayne State as I’d tell my peers about my new venture. I had a weird secret mailing list thing, it was really cool but it ended up getting to a point where I knew I had to get more serious about the way I was handling business. I won’t go too much further into it but I took it slowly, step by step to get to where we are today. Now, we do pop ups around town, cooking classes, cook for private gatherings or family dinners, pretty much anything you can think of.
Why sushi and Japanese food?
My parents are adventurous eaters, so they started feeding me Asian food when I was very young. I didn’t think sushi was anything exotic or out-of-the-ordinary until I grew up a bit. I’m a child of Arab and Norwegian descent and a lot of the old world traditions/recipes were passed down to my parents. I was lucky to grow up with a well-traveled palette.
My first job was at my favorite sushi bar over 12 years ago, I worked in the back as a prep cook. I started cooking things other than pasta and mac n cheese around this time, but the first thing I really learned how to cook was Okonomiyaki (o-konomi-yaki), a popular Japanese street food made from cabbage and bonitodashi. I saw the recipe in the back of a magazine and thought it looked insane so I had to know what it might taste like. When I found out that there were no places that serve it around here, I decided to make it myself.
Then the hobby got serious. When my teacher at school saw that I was becoming interested in cooking, she bought the ingredients and had me make sushi for the classroom. I kept researching new Japanese recipes and trying new things – for whatever reason, traditional American cooking didn’t interest me until much later.
What is your favorite thing to make? What is the most popular among customers?
I don’t have a favorite dish to make because I love all of them. That’s like trying to pick your favorite child or something. If I had to choose I think my favorite thing to make is a dirty martini, extra dry.
Our most popular dish is our Okonomiyaki, it’s just so dang good and I’m pretty sure we’re the only place around that serves it in a pseudo-traditional Japanese style (traditional is a tricky word to use with a dish that is constantly changing). We serve it every last Tuesday of the month at our monthly St. Cece’s pop up.
Favorite foods, besides the obvious?
Besides the obvious: Masakan Padang and Sundanese style Indonesian food is worth traveling around the world for, Ramen, Phở, rich Indian buffets, real Thai food, any quality Szechuan food, wings, soul food, a fresh bagel with lox, lox benedict, Burmese dishes I can’t pronounce, the famous pocket sandwich at Goodwells in Cass Corridor, the Seltah and Fassoulia over at Yemen Cafe, ice cream, chicken queso burrito at Qdoba, peking duck, my moms grape leaves, dill pickle soup, caprese salads with late summer heirloom tomatoes, bulgogi, Nemo’s burgers, fresh tortellini, Yasmeen’s cheese bread, I could go on but damn this is getting a little too romantic.
Looking to order Dr. Sushi for your event or office lunch? You can do so here.
Leave us a comment and let us know your favorite Japanese dish or sushi roll!