Chef Youji Iwakura of Oishii Boston - Biography

Boston, MA

June 2012

Youji Iwakura grew up in Japan and originally came to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. As a singer, Iwakura belted Stevie Wonder tunes to the keyboard; on the cutting board, his style veered toward jazz music.

After graduating from Berklee, Iwakura faced a tough economy took a job as a waiter. Energized by the restaurant industry, he became as a sushi chef at Ginza in Brookline, Massachusetts. After 8 years of sushi training, Iwakura moved to the front of the house, focusing on what had actually been his early childhood dream, to become a restaurateur. After working as a bartender at Troquet and as the general manager of several local restaurants, he returned to the kitchen, taking a position at Ken Oringer’s Uni sashimi bar at the Eliot Hotel.

To further hone his skills, Iwakura returned to Japan for two years to work at an upscale Japanese brasserie. When he came back to Uni, he was named chef de cuisine. In 2010, he opened Basho Japanese Brasserie as executive chef, where he created an innovative American Japanese menu as well.

Iwakura recently moved to Oishii Boston, where he is focusing on his restaurateur skills, and brings the Kaiseki menu he originally created at Basho. Iwakura plans to open his own restaurant in two years.