Florida Foodie: Henry Moso went from dishwasher to nationally recognized chef

The owner of Kabooki Sushi has managed to expand his business twice through the pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. – Chef Henry Moso, of Kabooki Sushi, came to the U.S. at 16 years old from Laos and, in less than 15 years, he has grown into a nationally recognized chef and restauranteur.

Moso’s culinary journey started the same way a lot of people have started in the industry, washing dishes at his mother’s restaurants, Bangkok Square and Origami.

Moso said starting out with one of the toughest jobs in the restaurant helped him prepare for his career ahead.

“It kind of helps you polishing your hard work and being tough, and knowing what it’s like to be in the dish pit and be the last one to leave at the restaurant,” he said.

Moso was not content to keep scrubbing pots and pans. He found himself being called to the sushi bar.

“My mom gave me an opportunity to do so. And next thing you know, I was the fastest sushi roller when I was 17 years old,” Moso said. “I think that that’s where you know where the action is: the sushi bar.”

Sushi is a very traditional Japanese cuisine, but Moso says he likes to bring an international flair to a dish that is steeped in tradition.

“I use global cuisine twists, you know — be it French technique, a little bit of Mexican twist, a little bit of Italian flavor,” he said. “I like to put a little bit of my memory of when I (was) fortunate enough to travel — have tastings with a different restaurant and replicate that and put a little touch of my own experience into my own creation.”

Moso’s take on contemporary Japanese cuisine appears to be paying off for him. In the last year, he opened a new Kabooki Sushi location at 7705 Turkey Lake Road in Orlando and he has also expanded his original location at 3122 E. Colonial Drive.

Not only that, just before the pandemic fully hit Florida, Moso was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category.

“That was really a shocking moment for me. And I was really blessed and really appreciated that,” Moso said.

The chef talks with the Florida Foodie podcast team all about his success and the growth of his business. He also shares what makes the ribs at Kabooki Sushi so good and his favorite dish.

Please follow our Florida Foodie hosts on social media. You can find Candace Campos on Twitter and Facebook. Lisa Bell is also on Facebook and Twitter and you can check out her children’s books, “Norman the Watchful Gnome.”

Florida Foodie is a bi-weekly podcast from WKMG and Graham Media that takes a closer look at what we eat, how we eat it and the impact that has on us here in Florida and for everyone, everywhere.

Find new episodes on Apple podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you download your favorite podcasts.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.