CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — To celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Month, we take a look at the history and art behind the prominent Japanese cuisine, sushi!
Hkawn Labya is a sushi chef at Origami, which has been in Corpus Christi since 1990.
Hkawn is from Burma. She has been making sushi for over 25 years and was trained by Japanese chefs.
She said when her husband passed away in 2016, she decided to move to Corpus Christi. That was back in 2019, so she turned to a career making sushi to help take care of her five kids. She said the secret to good sushi is in the rice.
“Sushi means the seasoning rice. Rice is very important. It must be perfect, and the texture and everything. And, the seasoning. Seasoning rice and seasoning should be really good as well,” Hkawn said.
According to New World Encyclopedia, the basic idea behind the preparation of sushi is the practice of preserving fish with salt and fermenting it with rice, a process traced back to seafood-preserving methods used in Southeast Asia.
From the rice to the seasoning, Hkawn said the fish for the sushi roll is also important.
“Because this is raw, and this is ready to serve. It has to be temperature control as well,” Hkawn said.
Hkawn said there are different kinds of sushi in Japanese culture, such as sashimi and nigiri.
“So sashimi is only fish alone. And then Nigiri is fish and rice on top, that’s how Japanese eat. And then the sushi roll is a sushi roll,” Hkawn said.
Finally, Hkawn said the presentation of sushi comes with years of experience.
“You need to know how to handle your knife. That is very important,” Hkawn said.
“At the same time, when you put them on the plate, you need to have color coordination. You have to have a little bit of art, like how you want to paint a picture. That’s how you decorate,” Hkawn said.
Hkawn looks back at her journey of learning how to make sushi and is grateful that she can carry on the delicate legacy of Japanese cuisine. But more importantly, she is thankful for the customers who appreciate the food.
“Whoever knows the value of the sushi, and they come here. There is a different customer who comes here and sits at the sushi bar, they know how to eat sushi,” Hkawn said.
Origami Sushi is located at Promenade Shopping Center, 1220 Airline Rd # 150, Corpus Christi, TX 78412.