Modern Japanese. Sushi. Sake.
Welcome to ONYX restaurant, where Master Sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa's modern Japanese cuisine and sushi meet influences from other Asian cuisines for an exciting dinner experience in Westlake Village, California. Dine outside on the patio, at the sushi bar or in the dramatic onyx-accented restaurant, perfect for couples or groups of friends. Sakes, Asian-inspired cocktails and more add to the casual, fun ambience for a memorable evening out in the Los Angeles area, also just a short drive from Malibu.
Hakodate, Japan may be an ocean from Los Angeles, but it's just a dinner seating away at ONYX restaurant, where Chef de Cuisine and Master Sushi Chef Masa Shimakawa holds sway. Born, raised and schooled in the port city noted for "perhaps the world's greatest seafood!" by Chowhound.com, "Chef Masa" has created Asian-style beauty with the pick of the Pacific since opening the restaurant in 2006.
"I work with great seafood from all over the coast and inland, too," he says. "Sea urchin from Santa Barbara, ocean shrimp, seasonal ingredients like spiny lobster - there is really no end." Paired with prime produce from across the state and fresh herbs from the Hotel garden, Chef Masa's creations are infused with the flavors of Japan, Thailand, China and beyond.
Unlike many bitten by the culinary bug, Shimakawa had no intention of becoming a chef when he started as a dishwasher in his teens. Soon there was no stopping him, including study at the Hakodate Professional Cooking School and his first job as a sushi chef in Tokyo. It took him five years to get comfortable with the discipline, he says, at which point he landed at the first of two sushi restaurants in Montreal in 1991. Positions in Chicago and New York followed before he found his way to Four Seasons.
Shimakawa leads five highly skilled cooks preparing sushi as well as hot and cold dishes in the progressive style in the restaurant's exhibition kitchen. Ever cognizant of the importance of innovation, Shimakawa creates thoroughly original dishes using western ingredients in eastern style, such as Maguro "Tataki" with seared Ahi tuna, spicy corn salsa and sweet sesame soy, and Miso Gin-Dara with Saikyo miso-marinated black cod and sweet soy drizzle.
It's hard to minimize the pull that seafood holds on Shimakawa. When not working long hours at ONYX, he pursues denizens of the deep as a PADI-certified diver and by rod and reel. Not surprisingly, he even ties his own trout flies. "I'm intrigued by the detail and balance required," he says, admitting with a laugh, "I think fly-tying is more difficult than sushi."
Chef Masa recommends... "The lobster summer roll. It's visually tantalizing, then you taste a nice minty flavor with a refreshing, yuzu wasabi sauce to complement the lobster."
Vincent Tsai’s interest in restaurants came at an early age. As a first generation born Chinese-American, Vincent saw both his father and great-uncle realize the entrepreneurial American dream when opening Chinese restaurants in their newfound home of Tulsa, Oklahoma. After working in these restaurants during his teenage years, he moved to an upscale steakhouse where his passion for dining and hospitality truly came together.
This experience inspired him to pursue a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. While at college, he attended a job fair where he was selected for an internship at Four Seasons Resort Dallas at Las Colinas. As they say, the rest was history. Upon completion of his internship, he asked to return as a Manager in Training upon graduation. For the next two years, his experience varied from working on the beverage carts at the golf course, The Cabana pool, The Members Lounge, The Lounge and Bar, In Room Dining, as well as the AAA Four Diamond Restaurant Cafe on the Green.
This diverse experience paved the way for Vincent to relocate to Westlake Village to take the helm in ONYX restaurant, where he works hand-in-hand with Chef Masa to create an exciting dining experience. Together, they are dreaming up fresh new promotions and events like the Samurai Chef competition, giving both regulars and new guests a reason to return again and again.
In his spare time, Vincent explores the canyon roads and scenic Pacific Coast Highway of his new home from his beloved Ducati Streetfighter S which connects him to his family’s tradition of taking annual motorcycle trips. A tequila connoisseur (a passion developed in Texas), he is working on developing a similar love for sake.
Vincent recommends... "The Chilean sea bass. It's always beautifully cooked with a great Japanese dressing. The fish sits on a salad featuring green papaya and hearts of palm, which bring a great texture as well as kick to the sea bass. From the bar, my favorite drink is the shishito heato, a Japanese spin on a margarita. The fresh shishito adds an extra kick to this drink."