photos by Robert Bostick
Born and raised in Shiogama, Miyago in Japan, Shuji “Elvis” Sugawara developed a passion for food at an early age. As a result of frequent trips to the local fish market with his mother and father, Sugawara grew up eating fresh fish prepared using traditional Japanese techniques.
In 1990, Sugawara moved to the U.S. to study English at the University of North Texas. While in school, he took a job at Nakamoto, an authentic Japanese restaurant in Plano. After studying under Soda Takashi (owner of Sushi Sake in Richardson) for three years, Sugawara moved on to work at Anzu, a Polynesian restaurant on McKinney Avenue. Four years later, Sugawara left Anzu to pursue an opportunity with Tei-Tei Robata Bar and Teppo, wherein he oversaw the sushi menu for both establishments.
Thanks to his inventive culinary style and iconic hairstyle, Sugawara has developed a cult following throughout his years in the Dallas restaurant industry. Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun recognized Sugawara’s talent, and asked him to become part of Shinsei’s opening team in 2006. After seven years with Shinsei, Sugawara continues to execute an imaginative sushi menu focused on authentic preparation and the use of high-quality ingredients.