Sushi cakes are a thing, and you can get them in St. Louis

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  • Taberu St. Louis Sushi Cakes are a tasty spin on the traditional birthday treat.

A few years ago, while chatting with a friend who didn’t eat sweets, chef Heidi Hamamura accepted a challenge that would change the way St. Louisians celebrate their birthdays.

“She said, ‘It would be so much better if you could make me a sushi cake,’ so I told her I was going to make her one,” Hamamura said. “I used to make sushi pizza at my dad’s restaurant [Nobu] and made sushi in the shape of Christmas sweaters and menorahs. For this I decided to take the rice and layer it with guacamole and other different things so it wasn’t just plain rice. A few people saw it and said they wanted one, so now I do about six or seven a year.”

While the general public has only become aware of Hamamura’s superb sushi platters since the start of the pandemic, the talented chef has been creating them for much longer. Previously, her business consisted of country club clients, for whom she worked alongside her father, Naomi “Hama” Hamamura, to create elaborate displays. However, when the clubs closed and this activity dried up, Hamamura decided to expand its offerings to the public through social media.

It didn’t take long for this business to take off, and Hamamura found itself in high demand overnight. As soon as news of her sushi cakes spread, the request made her realize she was indeed onto something.

“All the wraps for the cakes are raw fish, but I can also do vegetables and rainbow carrots,” Hamamura says. “Each cake is different because I custom create them based on what each of my clients asks for. Some really like tuna or inari, or some don’t eat sashimi; my clients tell me if they have any allergies and what they don’t, and then I go from there.There’s no menu, I just make omakase.

Even outside of his growing custom sushi business, it’s been a big year for Hamamura. In November, she entered the World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas in the seafood category of the contest, and right after the first of the year, she launched the brand Taberu Saint-Louis for his restaurant business, pop-ups and future projects.

“I’m working on a few projects right now,” Hamamura says. “It could take about a year, but I intend to take it to another level. I have great opportunities and a great team helping and supporting me. I’m a little nervous, but they keep saying I’m going to make this happen, so I’m going to have to.

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