Yuki Onishi, founder of the world’s first ramen shop to earn a Michelin star, has died at the age of 43.
It was not immediately clear when the renowned Japanese chef – who founded Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta, or simply Tsuta – passed away. However, news outlets say he died of acute heart failure. His company, where he last worked as director and global executive chef, broke the news on Friday.
“Yuki Onishi was a meticulous and talented chef who founded the world’s first MICHELIN-starred ramen eatery, Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta, enhancing the popularity of this noodle dish across borders beyond Japan,” Tsuta Global said in a statement. “On behalf of the management, our thoughts are with his family, friends and staff around the world as we strive to continue his legacy.”
Onishi founded Tsuta as a small eatery in Tokyo’s Sugamo district in 2012. It has since gained a cult-like following, earning its first Michelin star in 2016.
Tsuta is known for its shoyu ramen with a chicken and seafood dashi base infused with black truffle oil. Its head shop is now located in Tokyo’s Yoyogi-Uehara district, while overseas outlets currently include three in Singapore, two in Bangkok and one coming up in New York.
Onishi was born in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 1979. He began making ramen at the age of 18 at his father’s shop, Nanae Aji no Mise Mejiro, after graduating from high school.
At 22, Onishi pursued his dream to work in the fashion industry by becoming a merchandiser for a Tokyo-based fashion firm. The position brought him overseas opportunities, but he quit six years later after realizing that ramen was his true calling.
“Chef Yuki dedicated his life in pursuit of ramen excellence, as he constantly thought of ways to improve the taste of his ramen,” Tsuta Global Chief Executive Officer Brian Chua told The Sunday Times. “I remember him telling me that his aim was always to create the one and only original taste that differentiates him from the rest.”
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