Assume sushi is very best when it is the most up to date? The Dry Elderly Fish Man would disagree. “Recent is dull” is Liwei Liao’s tagline, and he is bringing the age-old method of dry-aging fish like New Zealand Ora King salmon, blackthroat seaperch, and Baja kampachi to LA’s ever-trendy meals scene. Ahead of serving his fish, he hangs them in a dry-aging chamber for anyplace between seven to fifteen days.
Liao grew up at the New York waterfront. “I might ditch college at Bronx Science to move fishing, and my dad used to be k with it,” he says. “English and historical past weren’t my robust swimsuit, however I did neatly in physics, bio, and math.” Skipping highschool in his teenagers to snag striped bass paid off; Liao now serves up high-end chirashi boxes that includes elderly sushi-grade uncooked fish out of The Joint, his specialised seafood marketplace in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles. In the beginning, the boxes have been a method to stay his industry afloat within the wake of the pandemic, however now, they are what he is very best recognized for. The boxes vary from $200 to up to $700.
When Liao breaks down a fish, he makes use of two varieties of equipment: A collection of tradition knives made in particular for him at a maker in Tokyo, and his watch. Differently, it is simply him and the fish. Timing is vital within the kitchen, whether or not he is making ready chirashi boxes or just processing the half-ton of fish he sees on a hectic day. The chef’s style has shifted for the reason that days of attempting to find stripers off the coast of Lengthy Island in highschool. Rear then, he “used to be all about G-Shocks and Seikos. I had a yellow and a inexperienced G-Surprise, and I had a Seiko 5 area watch as my first automatic watch.”
Whilst learning engineering at UCLA, Liao purchased a Speedmaster at Tourneau in Century Town. That watch now is living together with his brother; he gave it to him when he graduated faculty. Now, he wears a rotation of Rolex and Omega watches – however now not the most well liked fashions. Whilst they arrive from a blue-chip producer, Liao continues to be attracted to the quirky fashions in each levels.
Omega Speedmaster Schumacher Version
“The early 2000s in Southern California used to be like real-life Speedy and the Livid,” Liao says. “Automobile tradition used to be massive, and I used to be at all times putting out across the automotive stores. I used to be into DTM, and I had a large number of buddies into JDM, too.” Within the early 2000s, German driving force Michael Schumacher used to be king – so Omega produced a lot of Speedmaster limited-edition fashions honoring his achievements in karting all of the means as much as F1.
Peer into the open kitchen at Liao breaking down a fish, and you are more likely to spot the Rolex Milgauss on his wrist. “When I am sticking my hand within a fish, I am generally dressed in the Milgauss. It is been my workhorse for some time now” he says. And within the steel, there is extra than simply fish guts – the ones wash proper off, anyway – there is additionally a love tale.
Liao become on this watch after seeing it marketed on billboards and in magazines. “The fairway glass stood out to me, and being an engineer, I used to be attracted to the science background of the watch.” However like maximum Rolex fashions lately, it proved tough to in truth to find. “I stored calling other ADs round Southern California and nobody had one for me,” he says. “However then, on a visit to Taiwan, I walked into an AD and there used to be one sitting within the case. I used to be newly married, and my spouse purchased an identical Datejust. We did not plan on it, nevertheless it used to be a method to have fun us. We had gotten married previous within the yr and the vacation to Taiwan used to be for us to peer circle of relatives over there.”
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra
Liao discovered the onerous means what servicing fish each and every day can do to chrono pushers; when his Speedmaster become compromised, it took $800 to get it back in form. He did not wish to undergo that carrier procedure once more. He wanted one thing simpler, one thing that might rise up to the paintings. He landed at the Seamaster Aqua Terra as it thematically have compatibility together with his budding engineering-focused assortment. Plus, the ocean ties simply made sense.
Rolex “Hulk” Submariner 116610LV
There is no doubt that Liao wears his watches onerous. He cleans the fish scales and slime off his watch day-to-day. And when his Hulk rose in worth after it used to be discontinued, he retired it from the day-to-day rotation. It is now sitting in a secure back east.
Kagekiyo Chef’s Knives
Liao makes use of personalized Kagekiyo knives from Sakai, Japan, that permit him to scale fish the use of the sukibiki method, by which he cuts off the scales moderately than raking them off with a fish scaler. “The scales of fish are necessarily their armor,” he says, “and you want a in reality, in reality sharp edge to chop thru that armor on some fish. You are now not chopping thru flesh all of the time, on occasion you are chopping thru bony plates. The sharper the knife, the extra brittle it may be, so you want to discover a balance between sturdiness and sharpness.”
He discovered the easiest balance in somewhat Eastern knife store the place “there is a man who makes the steel, then any other man that shapes and sharpens the steel, then any other man units it into the maintain. They are all true craftsmen who’re the most productive at a unmarried facet of the manufacturing of the knife. We had a unique tip and heel made in particular for the kind of paintings we do right here, and that is the reason one thing you’ll be able to only get carried out in Japan.”
Pics: Evan Robinson