2019 Philadelphia Rising Star Chef Jesse Ito of Royal Sushi & Izakaya

2019 Philadelphia Rising Star Chef Jesse Ito of Royal Sushi & Izakaya
March 2019


Much of Jesse Ito’s childhood was spent inside Fuji, the Japanese restaurant owned by his family in the south Jersey suburbs. The restaurant was one of the first authentic Japanese eateries in the area, opening in 1979. At 14, he started working as a dishwasher and prep cook, and at 17, he began training with his father Masaharu behind the sushi bar. After high school, Ito attended Rutgers University to study marketing but continued to work at Fuji full time. Ito got to know many of the regulars that frequented the restaurant, including restaurateurs and bar owners David Frank and Stephen Simons. In early 2014, Frank and Simons asked Ito if he wanted to open his own restaurant, and Ito enthusiastically signed on to the new project.
 
Royal Sushi and Izakaya was born of a desire to fill the voids in Philadelphia for both a lively Japanese gastropub and a high-end sushi omakase experience. Ito has turned the restaurant into a new family legacy, with his father Masaharu selling Fuji in 2016 to work the kitchen of the izakaya section full time. The younger Ito has become known for the 10-seat omakase experience in the back of the restaurant and received a coveted four-bell review from Craig LaBan in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Ito also was recognized by Eater’s 2017 Young Gun awards and Zagat’s “30 under 30” list.