Taka Watanabe has been making sushi for over 20 years. He arrived in the U.S. in 1986 from his native Brazil, where he was raised by Japanese parents but educated in Portuguese. His parents instilled in him a love of good food, and cooking. He remembers fondly watching his mother make sushi for the family on special occasions. As soon as he arrived in the Bay Area, he immediately found work in a Japanese restaurant, where he quickly learned to make sushi. In 1989, he met and married his wife, Susan, and shortly thereafter, relocated to Sacramento.
In Sacramento, he apprenticed under the watchful eye of Shige Tokita of Shige Sushi for six years. Shige, a classically-trained chef from Japan, was all business, and quite a stickler for detail.Taka re-learned to make sushi "the proper way." It was tough in the early years, but Taka credits Shige with "everything I now know about making sushi."
In 1998, Taka opened his first sushi bar in Midtown Sacramento with a former partner. In 2001, he opened Taka's Sushi in Fair Oaks with his current partner, Peter Kwong. In 2003, Taka sold his shares of his Midtown restaurant to his former partner, and focused entirely on the Fair Oaks location. Finally, Taka and Peter had the opportunity to re-lease the site of Taka's first restaurant in Midtown. After an extensive remodel, Ju Hachi was born. Taka now divides his time between Taka's Sushi and Ju Hachi. In his very limited "downtime," he enjoys spending time with his family which includes his wife, daughter, two sons, two Standard Poodles and a menagerie of chickens.