tokyo fish story: A Tale of Traditionalism vs Progressivism Told Through the World of Sushi

Lawrence Kao, Sab Shimono and Ryun Yu in South Coast Repertory's 2015 world premiere of tokyo fish story by Kimber Lee. Photo by Ben Horak/SCR.
tokyo fish story stars Lawrence Kao, Sab Shimono and Ryun Yu. tokyo fish story, the newest play by Kimber Lee, premieres this week at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California. (Photo credit: Ben Horak/SCR).

Koji (Sab Shimono) is an aging sushi master on a lifelong quest to make the perfect sushi. His once-thriving restaurant is now being overshadowed by newer and hipper locations, but Koji’s young and talented protege, Takashi (Ryan Yu), hopes to revive the business and reinvigorate interest in Koji’s traditional craft. Takashi enlists the help of Koji’s other assistants: the hip-hop obsessed Nobu (Lawrence Kao) and the brash Ama (Jully Lee), the rare female sushi chef toiling in a male-dominated field.

This is the premise of tokyo fish story, the latest play by award-winning playwright Kimber Lee, whose earlier works — including FightBrownsville Song (B-Side For Tray), and Different Words For the Same Thing — have appeared on stages across the country and to critical acclaim.

I was privileged last week to have a chance to chat with Lee about her inspiration in writing tokyo fish story, and her experiences as an Asian American playwright.

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