Kyra Smith is the Public Relations Manager for the Hilton Pensacola Beach Hotel.
The Hilton’s Sushi Maestro
When Chef Dot Chap rolls sushi he imagines himself as a musical maestro. Timing is everything when you’re conducting a symphony and according to Chef Dot it is much the same with sushi. He says, “Rolling sushi, like conducting music, is a a form of artistic expression. Sometimes, when everything works out right, you produce a masterpiece.”
Chap is serious about his work but modest about his success. After graduating from the Art Institute of Atlanta, he worked as Head Sushi Chef in many high profile restaurants including; The California Café, Indigo, Tom Tom, and Prime. In 2005, he won an award for the Best Sushi in Atlanta from a popular local radio station.
Chap’s discrete about his impressive culinary background and doesn’t crave celebrity. He says, “I don’t want to be a rock star, just an artist. Without my crew, I’m not who I am. They make my job easier. While I teach them, they teach me. In this business, you must constantly be both a teacher and a student.”
Chap believes great chefs rise from hard work and commitment. He says “You can’t just decide to be an Auguste Escoffier. You have to work on your craft, keep up with trends and remember there’s always someone better then you.”
Chap took over Bonsai Sushi Bar at the Hilton Gulf Front Hotel on Pensacola Beach in 2009. He’s since revamped the menu and now serves some of the best sushi in the region. One of his signature dishes is Dot’s Sushi Martini; a ‘martini’ composed of thinly sliced cucumbers, seaweed salad, squid salad, octopus, shrimp, kani, daikon spouts, tobiko, and tuna tataki drizzled with ponzu sauce. “It’s like a party in your mouth, or so we’ve been told.” He chuckles.
If you’re a tuna lover don’t miss out on the ATL Volcano. It is rolled with spicy tuna and cucumber and then topped with more tuna, avocado, spicy mayo and eel sauce. Be sure to follow up with a yummy yummy Yomi Yomi roll consisting of fresh tuna, salmon, yellowtail, cream cheese, and scallions which are flash fried and then served with cucumber salad and ponzu sauce. Another favorite is the Rainbow Roll which is rolled with lump crab meat and cucumber and then topped fresh tuna, salmon, yellow tail, and avocado.
Chap also likes to experiment with global flavors. One indication of his creativity in this regard is his Kamikaze Tostados which are lightly fried tortilla chips covered with tuna tataki, spicy tuna, homemade guacamole, and lump crab meat topped with a drizzle of wasabi lime sour cream.
On occasion Chap will whip up custom dishes for customers at the bar such as beef tataki which is sliced beef with marinated onions, coffee teriyaki, champagne ponzu sauce and chilies. Come on down and say hi and see what he will create for you.