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Meet the chef: Mattia Aranini, head chef at Sushi on Jones, Kings Cross in London

We caught up with the chef to hear all about his influences, top ingredients and where you’ll find him on days off.

By LLM Reporters  |  January 28, 2022
Mattia Aranini

Mattia Aranini is the head chef of Sushi on Jones, which has just arrived in London and currently has a trio of critically acclaimed restaurants in New York.

Centred on the Omakase concept, Mattia hand selects all ingredients on the day and brings to life never-before-seen ingredients to create his 12-course tasting menu, making it a new must-visit spot in the eclectic Goods Way development in Kings Cross.

We caught up with the chef to hear all about his influences, top ingredients and where you’ll find him on days off.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, including your where you are today, professionally, and what got you here?

I was born in 1994 and raised in Rome. I moved to London in September 2013. I’m currently the head chef at Sushi on Jones Omakase Bar Restaurant in London. It’s my love for Asian food and in particular Japanese that is what brought me to London.

What or who inspired you to become a chef?

My mother, my first memory of her is in the kitchen at the restaurant where I used to follow her after school, or whenever I had spare time.

Sushi on Jones food
Mattia likes to combine traditional sushi knowhow with his Italian heritage to create winning dishes

Who has been your biggest influence to get you to where you are today?

Chef Hiroyuki Sato is for me a very important part of how I have grown as a ‘European’ sushi chef. He’s the first sushi master in the world who permitted non-Japanese people and women to work and be taught by him which was a very forward way of thinking in Japan, and that’s why I decided to pursuit my dream of being a sushi chef.

What’s your signature dish?

That is hard as there are several different courses on our tasting menu, but if I had to choose, I’d go for the yellowtail belly cured in kombu kelp and served with thin sliced truffle from Italy.

What are the most important considerations when crafting your menu?

I always try to remain as local as l can with my product that’s why mostly 80% of the fish used at Sushi on Jones, London, is from within the UK. Secondly, I literally use only one premade product which is soy sauce, all other ingredients are strictly made in house.

Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?

Absolutely – almost all the menu from the fish, vegetable and little garnish is based on what I love eating and cooking.

Sushi on Jones
Sushi on Jones has just arrived in London and currently has a trio of critically acclaimed restaurants in New York

How would you describe your cooking style?

I love to mix both my knowledge of traditional sushi with my Italian heritage. This benefits the preparation of new dishes.

Do you have a favourite time of year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?

My favourite time of the year it’s winter because is when the fish have a particular quantity of fat that makes them even better to eat and to create with.
What is your favourite ingredient to create with?

Hands down tuna and prawns I couldn’t live in a world without either one of them.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?

Probably painting a comic book.

What is your favourite dish to cook at home?

New York style cheesecake, or pizza.

When are you happiest?

It depends on the location! At home when I’m with my wife and my son no doubt. At work while I’m doing my morning preparation when everything is silent and there is only me in the kitchen.

Sushi on Jones food
The food can be described as simple and classic Japanese way of serving omakase but with innovative touches

What is the USP of your restaurant?

I recently fell in love with the curing and the ageing process of the products and that’s why lately I’m using different related techniques to offer a very intense and different taste on my omakase sushi experience.

What is your favourite piece of kitchen equipment?

My knives

When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?

Cinemas, comic bookstore, or in a restaurant trying new food

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?

Very cliché since I’m Italian but definitely pizza.

Where is your favourite place to dine?

I don’t have a favourite restaurant, but particular dishes I love from different places.

What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend?

The avocado and mayonnaise mania that has spread so much during the last three years.

What do your future plans entail?

In the next five/six years I would like to open my own Sushi Restaurant Omakase style.

Sushi on Jones
Sushi on Jones seats just eight diners

How have the lockdown restrictions affected your work?

It was very tough, we had to shut down the restaurant after only two months of being open and considering that ours is a very small place with only eight seats it was difficult even just to seat more than four people together to respect the new law. Luckily everything went back to normal, and the business is now running better than ever.
What differences do you find working with local produce as opposed to non-local produce in terms of what you can create and flavour?

I always try to keep my ingredients local for a matter of cost, sustainability and because I can choose the fish going to market. I sometimes use products from Japan like wagyu or the fresh wasabi root, or from Italy like truffle because there is always that little thing from a far place that will bring the dots all together when combined.

How do you go about menu planning? What’s the process from picking the ingredients to getting them fresh into the kitchen and into dishes?

This is always the best part for every chef, I think. My planning starts at Billingsgate market fish vendor, where I go searching for products I want on the menu. I just choose the best and most reliable vendor that can always deliver the same quality and freshness for all the products as if I was his number one customer every day.

How would you describe the food you create at Sushi on Jones to someone who’s never experienced your kind of food?

I’d describe it as it is, simple and classic Japanese way of serving omakase but with innovative touches. The way they are served to the customer, builds the story piece by piece, enhancing the flavours of even the most underrated fish and making them surprising and interesting.

What’s your favourite flavour combination?

My favourite combination now in our tasting menu is the yellowtail belly cured in kombu kelp with Umbrian truffle and the salmon eggs marinated in yuzu juice.