Russell Okubo - Chef & Owner

As the Executive Chef and owner of Aji Japanese Bistro, Russell Okubo has made his mark on the restaurant business and Japanese style food. After having attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco from 1984 to 1986, Chef Russell built up an extensive resume that makes up over thirty years of experience in the world of culinary arts. Since opening its doors in 2013, Aji has been known for their authentic Japanese street food, diverse craft bar and exceptional service. Russell, along with his culinary talents and experience in fine dining, has pronounced passion for the business he has committed himself to for so many years.

Russell Okubo started off his highly successful culinary career as a chef for Nestle USA and as Executive Chef for The Firehouse Restaurant in Old Town Sacramento. While he was originally trained in French cuisine, Russell found his niche when he started to gravitate towards cooking Japanese food. For four years, he worked as the Executive Chef for Bel Air Markets and opened sushi departments in 15 stores. In 1996, with the rising popularity of sushi and Russell’s love for Japanese food, he was able to successfully delve into the business world by becoming the Managing Partner for Kanpai Restaurant.

Once making the switch to Japanese cuisine, Russell never looked back and continued to build upon his impressive resume. After a couple productive years at Kanpai, he sold his share of the restaurant in order to open Sumo Sushi in Elk Grove. He then sold this business after five years and went on to be the Executive Chef at Tokyo Fros before taking on another Executive Chef role for Fat’s Family Restaurants. Russell, who also was in charge of directing Fat’s restaurant properties, took a quick break from fine Asian dining to become the Food and Beverage Director at Casino Royale. This is when he began to make plans to open Aji Japanese Bistro.

While sushi has been a popular trend for many years, Russell feels that his menu at Aji gives Japanese cuisine an entirely unique flair. He strives to enhance the staples of traditional Japanese food and strays away from recurring trends by always being distinct in his innovations. This way, his restaurant is always kept new and exciting. For Chef Russell Okubo, this passion and ambition to be unique has given both his restaurant and culinary career great success.

So, the bartenders at Aji have a thing for whisky.. Come pick our brains about Ohishi and other new