Dai Fukasaku lives by what he described as the "10 traffic lights diet," where in the rural North, ingredients are local as long as you don't go through more than 10 traffic lights. (Seth Forward/The Northern View

Rupert restaurant cherishes its relationship with local farmers

Chef Dai Fukasaku of Fukasaku Sushi in Prince Rupert is passionate about local ingredients

When Dai Fukasaku goes looking for ingredients for his highly-rated sushi restaurant, sustainability is key.

Having started Fukasaku Sushi 10 years ago in Prince Rupert, the sushi chef has ensured his restaurant has been well-stocked with local seafood since he opened his doors.

Though Prince Rupert has a rich aquaculture industry, local agriculture is not something Fukasaku can rely on, and he said his connections in the region have kept the veggies flowing.

“I talked to a few people in Rupert, and we made our own Prince Rupert shared harvest group,” he said. “We have about eight groups… We only have to drive to Terrace twice a year to get produce because we can take turns.”

Fukasaku has stuck to his beliefs, even reluctantly ditching his 100 per cent OceanWise certificate two years ago when the certificate took off B.C. salmon from its approved list. If Fukasaku had followed OceanWise’s recommendations, he would have had to source his salmon from Alaska, which did not make sense to the chef.

“I was the first sushi restaurant in B.C. to have a 100 per cent OceanWise [certificate], and I was proud of it,” he said. “My definition of sustainability is as long as I know where the fish is from and as long as it’s local, I think it’s sustainable… It’s more sustainable coming from here than it is getting this shipped down from Alaska.”

Fukasaku has his own Northwest-oriented version of the highly-popular 100-mile diet. Living in the sparsely-populated Northwest has bent the rules for what “local” food means to Fukasaku, and he came up with the “10 traffic lights diet” while driving to the Kispiox Valley near Smithers.

“My relationship with local farmers expanded, and I was driving to WoodGrain farm in Kispiox,” he said. “It’s a 350-kilometre drive, but there are no traffic jams, and when you count traffic lights, there won’t be more than 10.”

Fukasaku has come to cherish the connections he’s made, especially after the 2021 atmospheric river cut off traditional supply routes.

“I’m very proud of my relationships with fishermen and farmers, and I have direct connections, and I know what their lives are like,” he said. “I’m really fortunate that they appreciate my effort and they come here to support my business too.”

Having grown up in the metropolis of Tokyo, Fukasaku has found his home on the North Coast. He kayaks, skis and hikes in his free time — though free time is not a luxury he has much of lately, as his restaurant has been fully booked for the last two months.

With a small, 16-person seat building, he downsized the establishment in the last few years to maintain the high standards his customers have come to expect of him. Fukasaku is also only open for two and a half hours, four days a week.

Having studied music in the United States, Fukasaku became a server at a sushi restaurant after needing a summer job to fund his studies, finding a commonality between the two.

“I got into it a little bit, and once I started learning, I found similarity between music and making sushi both in the field of art, music or singing,” he said.

“You’re given a sheet of music and express yourself to that, and cooking or making sushi, you get ingredients and express yourself through the ingredients.”

Fukasaku Sushi is located at 215 Cow Bay Rd in the heart of Prince Rupert.


Dai Fukasaku prepares a locally-caught sockeye salmon in the Fukasaku Sushi kitchen. 
(Seth Forward/The Northern View)

Dai Fukasaku prepares a locally-caught sockeye salmon in the Fukasaku Sushi kitchen. (Seth Forward/The Northern View)

Fresh greens that Fukasaku recently got delivered from Farmer Cam's Foods in Terrace. Fukasaku said he's proud of the connections he's made with farmers in Prince Rupert's surrounding areas. (Seth Forward/The Northern View)