Our Team

Ben Hunter

Ben Hunter

Regional Director

Born and raised in Vancouver, Ben is no stranger to the city and the culinary adventures it has to offer. He adopted the Ningenmi philosophies naturally and transitioned into the Aburi team with ease, greatly due to his undeniable passion for the restaurant industry and welcoming, personable nature. As an industry veteran, Ben quickly became one of the lead employees on the Minami opening team. After running the Penny Lane pub with his father for nearly a decade, and opening up The Hood neighbourhood pub, Ben’s experience and professional relationships in the industry made him a clear-cut choice to develop the bar. Shortly after the opening of Minami, Ben was promoted to Manager, and it was not long after that his expertise was pressed into service once again, while he found himself as a key person in the opening of Miku Waterfront. His depth of knowledge and dedication earned him the position of General Manager. Ben brings experience, leadership, professionalism, passion and a level of customer service that embraces the concept of Omotenashi wholeheartedly. It is no wonder both the customers and staff alike love being on shift or dining in the restaurant where Ben sets the tone.

Aaron Matsuzaki

Aaron Matsuzaki

General Manager

Aaron’s passion for Japanese sake, cocktails, and cuisine, rooted early into his life, moving him to live in Japan for 2 years at the young age of 21. His love for genuine guest interaction has carried him through 12 years in the food and beverage industry, 9 years being in managerial roles. The beginning of January 2017 marked Aaron’s start at Miku Vancouver. Naturally, he fit into the company’s pillars, namely “Omotenashi,” going above and beyond to provide an exceptional, personalized experience to every guest. Not too long after in October 2018, Aaron pursued the role of Miku’s General Manager, and continues to lead the team in their growth.

Malcolm Simpson

Malcolm Simpson

Manager

Originally from Sydney Australia, Malcolm has lived and worked in Tokyo for over 10 years. He has a range of experience having opened restaurants and consulted for international restaurant groups throughout Australia, Japan, England and the USA.
Mal joined the Miku Management team in 2017. Of the Aburi three pillars, he identifies most with Ningenmi; with experience in both back-of-house and front-of-house positions, he is a strong believer that sincerity along with knowledge, and passion, go a long way in providing an exceptional dining experience.

Miguel Arrais

Miguel Arrais

Manager

Hailing from the province‘s capital, Miguel moved to Vancouver to pursue his post-secondary education after taking a few years to travel the world. Attending both the University of British Columbia and Langara College, Miguel graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2013. Miguel’s time with the Aburi family began in 2012 as part of the inaugural service staff at Minami and continued when he moved over to Miku to assist with its re-opening in 2013. Since then, he has transitioned into the management team at Miku and turned his focus to wine, attaining his WSET level 3 and also the Certified Sommelier designation from the Court of Master Sommeliers. As Miku’s Head Sommelier, Miguel is now combining his knowledge of business and his passion for wine to curate Miku’s extensive wine list.

Shota Yoshitake

Shota Yoshitake

Manager

Born and raised in the Greater Vancouver area, Shota is the latest member to join the management team at Miku Vancouver. Shota first joined Miku in 2016 as a member of the support staff. He worked his way up the ranks in the following years to join the serving team, bar team, and now, the management team. Shota credits his previous eight years of experience in the food and beverage industry, both back and front of house, working at some of the best Japanese restaurants in Vancouver. Shota’s progression at Miku was seamless as he truly identifies with all three company pillars. In particular, Shota embodies the qualities of “Ningenmi,” working hard every day to instill positive energy and joy to all guests.

Jacqueline Saito

Jacqueline Saito

Manager

Jacqueline first joined the Aburi family in 2014 as a server at our sister restaurant, Minami. While studying International Relations and Business at The University of British Columbia, she spent extensive time learning about different cultures through both her education and her travels. She attributes her passion for the hospitality industry from her travel experiences, where she realized dedication and passion is a shared commonality shown through cuisine around the world. During her time in the hospitality industry, she has obtained her WSET Level 2 in Wine and WSET Level 3 in Sake.

Kazuhiro Hayashi

Kazuhiro Hayashi

Corporate Sushi Chef of Aburi Restaurants and Executive Chef of Miku Restaurant

As the son of a famous ceramicist from Kyoto, Japan, sushi chef Kazuhiro Hayashi brings creative and artistic flare to the Miku team. Relocating to Canada at the age of thirteen, Kazuhiro had an ambition to learn English and so he accepted a position as a dishwasher in a sushi restaurant. From this humble beginning, he developed a keen interest for food and eventually moved up the ranks to become Miku’s Head Sushi Chef. Drawing from inspiration influenced by his artisan father, Kazuhiro has perfected the “art” of sushi. The place you will see him happiest is behind the Miku sushi bar, where he has already created a reputation for himself. “Seeing the smile on my customer’s face is my motivation for being the best chef I can be.”

Yoshitaka Miyamoto

Yoshitaka Miyamoto

Chef de Cuisine

Yoshi’s passion in life is to make people happy. He’s found a way to express this passion through his beautiful sushi and cuisine created at Miku. Bringing his 14 years experience in the restaurant world, his strong belief in Ningenmi- compassion and team work- Yoshi is a perfect fit at Miku. Within Aburi’s three pillars, he finds the outlet to impress the guests at Miku.

Shingo Fujiwara

Shingo Fujiwara

Head Sushi Chef

Native to the coastal Chiba prefecture in Japan, Shingo’s affinity to the ocean and its diverse marine life traces back to his childhood, spending his formative years fishing and free diving.

At the age of 16, Shingo began his career in the restaurant industry like many others, through dishwashing and bussing tables. He officially began his training as a chef in the Japanese dining scene at 22 years old, and seven years later made the move to Canada for new culinary opportunities. While searching for his new journey in the country, Shingo came across Aburi Restaurants CEO Seigo Nakamura (then the CEO of only {Miku Restaurant/Miku and Minami Restaurant in Vancouver}), and, moved by his passion for the restaurant industry and commitment to locality and the social responsibility of seafood dining, made the decision to join Miku Restaurant.

Nowadays, one can find Shingo on the front lines of Miku’s sushi bar as Head Sushi Chef. He continues to be inspired by the oceans, sustainability, and the Aburi spirit.

Kiko Nakata

Kiko Nakata

Head Pastry Chef

Kiko, a Vancouver native, grew up surrounded by a family of food lovers. Her Japanese born mother and grandparents fostered her love for cooking at a young age, encouraging her to pursue her dreams to become a pastry chef. While she was born and raised here, Kiko spent many years honing her skills and passion for the culinary arts in three different continents. She began studying her craft at Le Cordon Bleu in London, then spent two years working and learning from Thomas Haas, who she considers to be her lifelong mentor. In 2016 Kiko moved to Japan to further connect with her heritage and culture, while also working for Dominique Ansel Bakery in Tokyo. She begins a new chapter as Head Pastry Chef at Miku, bringing together her cultural heritage and love of food. Here she hopes to bring life to the philosophy of Ningenmi: “finding happiness in one’s life by bringing joy to others.”