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Jan 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Naomi Hamamura’

What I Do: Heidi Hamamura at Guerrilla Street Food

Monday, January 1st, 2018



Heidi Hamamura’s culinary education started when she absorbed her father, chef Naomi Hamamura’s, knowledge of sushi, Japanese and French fare in their kitchen after school. Since then, she has made a career out of exploring new cuisines: Italian with Jamey Trochtop at Stellina, Malaysian and Chinese with Bernie Lee at Hiro Asian Kitchen and modernist fine dining with Ben Grupe at Elaia. Now she’s diving into Filipino fare as executive chef of Guerrilla Street Food’s upcoming location on The Loop.


“The most I’ve had was five jobs at one time. It was intense, but I kept myself busy. … It’s like if someone likes yoga – loves it. It’s like going to different yoga classes all the time. Me going to different restaurants all the time and working was just fun. It was less like work.”

“My dad always told me you have to enjoy what you’re doing, and if you don’t, then I won’t back you up in life. If you love McDonald’s and you want to work at McDonald’s and you love everything about the company, then I will support you 100 percent. But if you work at McDonald’s and you bitch about life and complain all the time and do nothing about it, I’m not going to help you.”

“[My son] cooks already with my dad, too. … He likes to help cook his meals. He drags a chair over and wants to help hold the pan and sprinkle the salt on. He’s already there. My mom’s like, ‘No, you’re supposed to be a doctor!’”

“Since I didn’t go to culinary school, I promised [Trochtop] I wouldn’t leave if he taught me something new every day – a new word, anything. Even after work, I’d come back for my third shift and help him roll pasta until two in the morning. We’d grab a beer and roll pasta together because I wanted to learn.”

“Ben Grupe was one of the chefs that really inspired me. That’s the kind of cooking that I want to learn, that I love. It might be a small dish, but there is so much flavor in that, and creativity. It’s like art – you don’t want to eat it.”

“If we could find someone to open a [Japanese street food bar] in St. Louis, it would make so much money. … If the right investor comes or if I win the lottery, that would be really fun to do.”

“Making sushi is by far the most fun for me. … It’s the interaction and the different kinds of ways you can create and make sushi and display it. It’s like an art form. There are so many different ways you can beef up sushi or display an array of sashimi with different vegetables that go with certain fish or different spices. … I can eat sushi every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

“I remember the first time my dad took me out [to the lake]. … We were sitting on the boat drinking beers, and I had my fishing pole in the water and the sunset is going down and I said, ‘Whoever the hell created fishing is a genius. This is the best feeling ever.’”

Photo by Ashley Gieseking

Catherine Klene is managing editor, digital at Sauce Magazine. 

Related Content
• Guerrilla Street Food will open a location in The Delmar Loop

• The Story of Hama

• Sauce Magazine: January 2018

The Scoop: Ben Poremba, United Provisions terminate contract for Dining District

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014


{United Provisions raw bar chef Naomi Hamamura, Ben Poremba, executive chef Tudor Seserman, and head of development Shayn Prapaisilp on Aug. 7 just before opening}


Restaurateur Ben Poremba is no longer managing operations at United Provisions’ Dining District, the prepared food and restaurant component inside the new grocery store at 6241 Delmar Blvd., in The Loop.

Store owner Suchin Prapaisilp contracted Concepts in Food (an arm of Poremba’s parent company Bengelina Hospitality Group) to manage and operate the prepared food and food service at the coffee shop, sushi, deli counter and Dining District’s dinner service when United Provisions opened in August. Poremba also placed five employees in managerial positions there.

Two months later, the businessmen came to a crossroads. “Although we have a lot of respect for one another, our styles of management, expectations, the way they we do things and run our businesses is very different,” Poremba said. “It just made sense for us to separate.”

The contract officially ends Nov. 1. “Sometimes things don’t pan out,” said Shayn Prapaisilp, head of development for United Provisions. “We have a great respect for one another. With this particular move, it wasn’t working out for both of us. For business reasons, we decided to go our separate ways.”

Poremba’s managerial team, including raw bar chef Naomi Hamamura and executive chef Tudor Seserman, will also leave the Dining District. “(Seserman) will for sure stay with me (at Elaia),” Poremba said. “Hama is sort of up in the air. There’s a lot to figure out.”

Prapaisilp is currently reconcepting the Dining District’s future. “Nothing is decided as of yet. We will be keeping the sushi, but the other elements I can’t comment on,” he said.

Prapaisilp said managers from sister restaurants King and I, Oishi Sushi and Steakhouse in Chesterfield Valley and Oishi Sushi in Creve Coeur will join the team at United Provisions to run Dining District in the immediate future. “We want to make sure there is no interruption on the Dining District side.”


Hit List: 11 places you must try this month – Part 2

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

If it’s new and different you want, you’ll easily get your fill this month. Restaurants and bars have been opening left and right, not to mention food trucks, an ultramodern ice cream shop and an international grocery store. Are you ready, food-obsessed St. Louis? We’ve got 11 – yes, 11! – places you need to check out this month.

Did you miss Part 1 of our September Hit List? Never fear; click here to for 5 other places you must try this month.




6. Ices Plain & Fancy: 2256 S. 39th St., St. Louis, 314.601.3604, icesplainandfancy.com

One of Shaw’s newest (and zaniest) storefronts masquerades as a modest corner ice cream shop, but a closer look reveals some seriously weird science going on behind the counter. Started by four college chums, Ices Plain & Fancy evokes the techniques of Victorian desserts innovator Agnes B. Marshall to make the Nitro Ice (pictured), which uses liquid nitrogen to flash-chill cream to silky perfection. Best of all? It’s made to order right in front of you with nitrogen steam pluming all around. Pick from around seven seasonal flavors each day, or try the Sump Pump, soft-serve infused with whatever’s on the grind over at Sump Coffee. Most items are available in soy if you’re eating vegan or gluten-free – otherwise, be sure to have your ice cream scooped into one of the house’s fresh-made waffle cones.


7. United Provisions: 6241 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314.833.5699, unitedprovisions.com

What do you get when Olio and Elaia chef-owner Ben Poremba teams up with Global Foods guru Suchin Prapaisilp? You get shelves upon shelves of international foodstuffs, from kefir to pork ramen to Pocky. You get an unexpectedly diverse selection of beer, wine and cider, curated by Andrey Ivanov. You get sushi master Naomi Hamamura delicately arranging spicy tuna rolls behind the raw bar. You get coffee and espresso served over the marble countertop at the coffee bar. And at the restaurant area known as Dining District, you get table service for an impressive lunch (sandwiches, salads and burgers) or dinner (oysters, barbecued ribs, lamb kebabs and so much more). This grocery store-turned-gastronome refuge has us standing united in admiration.


8. Whitebox Eatery: 176 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, 314.862.2802, whiteboxeatery.com

Early risers can tuck into fine breakfast fare at Whitebox Eatery in Clayton. Step up to the gleaming white counter and place your order for coffee and a grilled ham breakfast sandwich, a thick slice of house-baked ham, an over-hard egg and gooey melted Gruyere cheese stacked between a house-made buttermilk biscuit slathered with apple butter. Lunch service starts at 11 a.m., and we’re digging into a filling organic farro salad, the ancient grain tossed with a handful of peppery arugula, roasted mushrooms, caramelized fennel, mozzarella and a pesto dressing. On your way out, snag that fruit Danish you’ve been staring at since you arrived. Its buttery, flaky goodness is so worth the calories.





9. Rack House West Winery: 5065 N. Highway N, Cottleville, 636.244.0574, rackhouse.westwinery.com

Rack House West Winery somehow successfully manages to be a tasting room, whiskey bar, restaurant and cigar lounge all at once. The new spot in Cottleville exclusively serves West Winery wines, (and will soon make a few in-house), but with 14 varietals from the super-sweet Duck Creek rosé to the dry, full-bodied Roundhouse Red, there’s something to please every palate. While you taste, snack on a few bar bites like bacon kettle corn. Hungry for more? The smoked brisket panini will more than satisfy with a mountain of tender meat slathered in a house-made barbecue sauce and topped with a spicy horseradish aioli, arugula, melted cheddar and caramelized onions. It’s comes on herb foccacia, but a knife and fork are required for this one. If you’d rather a whiskey and a stogie, step into the cigar lounge, sink into one of the comfy armchairs and light up, a snifter of one of 85 available whiskeys or a barrel-aged Manhattan (pictured) by your side.


10. Unkle Munkey’s Coin Club: 1027 Century Drive, Edwardsville, 618.692.5152, unklemunkeys.com

For the last few years, food has beckoned us to Edwardsville. Now that Unkle Munkey’s Coin Club has unlocked its doors, we’re heading across the river for some good, clean fun. The arcade offers more than 50 classic video games like Pong, Tetris, Galaga and Breakout, along with a dozen wicked pinball machines, including the classic Addams Family, and three skee-ball lanes, too. When thirst, hunger or a hand cramp finally pull you away from blinking lights and digital chirps, grab a table or take a seat at the full-service bar, the top of which is laminated with old comic book covers, quarters and game tokens. Hot dogs, pizzas and sandwiches make up the bulk of food offerings. Opt for The Hot Mess, a toasted Companion baguette packed with pastrami, roast beef, bacon, provolone and Swiss cheese, then turned into a hot mess thanks to ranch dressing and house-made giardiniera. Wash it down with one of seven mostly local rotating beers on tap. Kids can run amok until 8 p.m., when this hangout turns into a playground for the 18-and-older crowd. Sundays, however, offer amusement for all ages, all day.


11. Taste of St. Louis: Fri., Sept. 19 to Sun., Sept. 21, Chesterfield Amphitheater and Park, 631 Veterans Place Drive, Chesterfield, 314.534.2100, tastestl.com

The annual three-day food festival Taste of St. Louis returns this month, promising even more culinary delights. Grab a bite from one of more than 35 restaurants participating in Sauce Magazine’s Restaurant Row, watch area chefs compete in the Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale and take a stroll on the Art and Wine Walk. New this year are ticketed events featuring interactive cooking demonstrations by Food Network chefs Tyler Florence of Food Court Wars and The Great Food Truck Race and Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes fame. Live music and fireworks are also in store.

-photos by Michelle Volansky



The Scoop: Local sushi star Naomi Hamamura joins the culinary team at United Provisions

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


With the opening of United Provisions just weeks away, there’s news that another talented face from the local culinary scene is joining the team at the highly anticipated international grocery store at 6241 Delmar Blvd., in University City.

Naomi “Hama” Hamamura, previously executive chef at the Wasabi location downtown, has been hired as the chef at The Dining District, the prepared foods and dining section inside the grocery store. United Provisions partner Ben Poremba said he hired Hamamura two weeks ago. “He’s the best,” said Poremba, who also owns Elaia and Olio and co-owns La Patisserie Chouquette. “I called him up. He liked the idea of a new place … something a little different from what he’s done so far.”

While Hamamura will be in a new location, he’ll still be the focus of attention as he prepares sushi, ceviche and other raw far at the 16-seat raw bar at United Provisions. The Dining District’s other stations include a grill, a plancha and a deli with cured meats and cheese, according to St. Louis Magazine. Executive chef Jay Stringer will overseeing the entire dining and prepared foods operation. A veteran of the Chicago dining scene, Stringer has worked in the kitchen at Olio since it opened almost two years ago.

Lunch hours at The Dining District will be counter service with dine-in or carryout options, while dinner will be full service at this restaurant within a grocery store. There will also be a coffee shop serving up drip Northwest Coffee and pastries from La Patisserie Chouquette. Poremba said United Provisions is expected to open Aug. 11.

While Hamamura’s career began in Japan, the chef has made a mark on the local food scene since arriving to the U.S. in 1979, including working at now-closed Japanese steakhouse Robata of Japan and Ritz Carlton – St. Louis, and owning and operating the now defunct Sansui and Sansui West. In 2010, when Hamamura sold Sansui West to Wasabi, he stayed on as its corporate chef. After a stint at Prasino, Hamamura returned to Wasabi, where he worked until July 14.

-photo by Greg Rannells

Editor’s Note: This piece originally misstated Naomi Hamamura’s responsibilities at The Dining District. It has been corrected.

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