2017-10-26 / News

Egyptian serving sushi along the seashore

Taste of Far East brought to town at Bay Voyage
BY RYAN GIBBS


The native Egyptian puts the finishing touch, spicy mayo, onto the dish lavishly garnished with a lobster shell. 
PHOTOS BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN The native Egyptian puts the finishing touch, spicy mayo, onto the dish lavishly garnished with a lobster shell. PHOTOS BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN After nearly a decade mastering his craft in the North Pacific, a native Egyptian is now concocting his culinary creations on the coast of the world’s second largest ocean.

Nino El Gheryany, whose career spans three continents, is celebrating a successful first season as sushi chef at the Bay Voyage Restaurant. His arrival in Jamestown follows a decorated tenure with the knife at 10 Prime Steak & Sushi, one of Providence’s most lauded restaurants.

According to Bay Voyage general manager Frank Rosa, the Conanicus Avenue restaurant specifically sought the Mediterranean chef because of his reputation at 10 Prime. It was the first time Rosa had spoken with a chef who had experience in Japan, the home of sushi.

“His overall presence is very professional,” Rosa said. “He’s got a great demeanor. He loves to come up and engage with the customers. He was just a great fit for the restaurant.”


Bay Voyage chef Nino El Gheryany using a bamboo rolling mat to combine avocado, cucumber and rice while preparing the Bay Voyage roll. Bay Voyage chef Nino El Gheryany using a bamboo rolling mat to combine avocado, cucumber and rice while preparing the Bay Voyage roll. Rosa said he wanted to include sushi on the menu to set it apart from the competition in town. Although he began pursuing El Gheryany for the Bay Voyage’s relaunch in June 2016, the chef was busy with other projects at the time. A year later, however, the stars aligned.

“Everything fell together,” Rosa said.

The prospect was attractive to El Gheryany because he was intrigued by creating a sushi menu from scratch. He has designed a relatively simple menu for his customers, highlighted by bluefin tuna, Alaskan salmon, tempura, shrimp and lobster.

Before he was hired in Jamestown, El Gheryany already had 30 years of experience in the kitchen. He fell in love with Japanese cooking while working in Egypt. According to El Gheryany, he was drawn to the cuisine from halfway around the world because of its emphasis on presentation, the combination of ingredients and the unique taste.

In 1992, El Gheryany traveled to Japan and began learning the country’s culinary traditions first-hand from the source. He was impressed by the chefs, especially their serious manner while handling the fish and choosing their knives.

“It’s a piece of art, not a food,” he said. “It is kind of a complicated cuisine.”

El Gheryany enjoys the creativity it takes to prepare sushi and sashimi rolls. Although it is synonymous with raw fish in the Western world, sushi specifically refers to the vinegared rice that is a central part of the rolls.

Instead, El Gheryany explained, sashimi is the Japanese term for the raw, thinly sliced fish that is included in many popular sushi recipes, but not all of them. For example, some of El Gheryany’s rolls are served tataki-style, which means the meat is briefly seared over a hot flame before it is served.

After leaving Japan, El Gheryany came to the United States in 1999 to study at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. He graduated in 2003 and then began working at 10 Prime, where he was given free range to experiment with recipes and ingredients.

“That restaurant has made my name,” he said. “They gave me the whole facility and the freedom to do what I wanted. I went above and beyond, changing the sushi cuisine to match the American flair with European flair. I really worked hard, and they gave me everything possible to reach my success.”

Most of the nine sushi rolls on the menu at the Bay Voyage are El Gheryany’s own creations, including a firecracker roll inspired by the Fourth of July, his first week on the job. The roll, which features shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, cucumber, salmon, avocado and tempura crust with a spicy mayo and eel sauce, has been a bang, leading to its appearance on the restaurant’s fall menu.

Another favorite is the Bay Voyage roll that was created especially for the restaurant. It is made with spiced lobster meat and served inside of the crustacean’s shell. It also features red-orange tobiko, which is Japanese for flying fish roe.

“Americans love lobster,” he said. “The shell adds a beautiful presentation to the plate. Colorwise, it matches the beautiful green avocado inside. It is good to get the orange and green with the blue view in the back.”

That view is of Narragansett Bay and the looming Newport Pell Bridge, which can be seen from the restaurant’s deck and through the waterfront windows.

So far, Rosa said El Gheryany’s menu has been so popular that the restaurant offers sushi Wednesdays through Sundays.

“It’s been well received,” Rosa said. “There’s a little bit of sushi for everyone. It’s not all raw, so people try to dive in.”

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