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Issue 002: Jon Nguyen

The P.O.P. (Portraits of POPLIFE) documents inspiring individuals who push artistic boundaries and strive for excellence in order to advance the communities around them. Uniting a wide range of talented creatives from diverse backgrounds, this editorial series invites them to share their passions and the impact they've had on the realms of hospitality, music, fashion, art, and design. 

Pull up a chair and take a seat for our newest issue featuring Michelin Starred Chef Shingo Akikuni. POPLIFE sat down with the critically-acclaimed chef at his newest Omakase venture, SHINGO, in Coral Gables to discuss all things food, fish, and fun.

Read below to learn about his culinary journey and the inspiration behind his craft.

Chef Shingo, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you end up where you are today?

My name is Shingo Akikuni and I am a sushi chef. I trained in Tokyo for some time then made my way to New York, and eventually here to Miami where I just opened my own restaurant. In my free time I love collecting vinyl and eating out at different restaurants!

What inspires you?

My mentor: the sushi master, Toshikatsu Aoki, has been a big inspiration to me. I also feel inspired by traditional Japanese plates and tableware; they inspire me to create different dishes.

What motivated you to become a chef?

 I always wanted to travel the world and thought I would be able to do this by becoming a chef. My biggest influence was my grandfather, who was also a sushi chef and used to take me to the fish market as a kid.

What does
the Michelin star
mean to you? 

Working in Tokyo, I always saw chefs who won the Michelin star in the fish markets and looked up to them. Winning a star was something I never expected as a young kid, but sharing the stage with my peers in Miami was an incredible experience.

I just want to keep it real. I don’t want to lose sight of the core reasons we are doing this. We want to continue to grow this project but in stride with Miami.

What goes into curating a diverse festival lineup?
Idealistic or realistic?

I’ve always dreamed big and it has worked for me so far! 

 What is your favorite adage?

七転び八起き: “Fall seven times, get up eight.”

What’s your most
prized kitchen tool? 

That would be my sushi knife from Sakai City - it was the first knife I bought when I first became a sushi chef.

Tell us about your latest gastronomic venture, “SHINGO”.  

SHINGO is my new 14-seat omakase restaurant where we have two seatings a day, five days a week. I focus on bringing in the best ingredients from Japan

while also sourcing ingredients here locally in Florida.


At SHINGO, I prepare and serve our guests wit

 traditional Japanese techniques.

If not in the kitchen, where else would you want to be?
Is there something other than cooking you are passionate about?
What is your ethos?

If I didn’t train to become a sushi chef I would have gone to Berlin after high school to learn to be a DJ! 

I will never serve something that I don’t like or something that is less than my guests deserve.

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