Playing with your Food

A lot of people play with their food; some even style it. And Japanese food clearly lends itself to some really fun food art. Some years ago, there was a craze for styling bento boxes (packed lunch tiffins that have bite sized foods) with cute characters (think of a little Hello Kitty winking at you from a idli sized ball of rice).

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

But, what about shoeshi — or sushi made to look like popular sports sneakers? That’s exactly what art school drop out Yujia Hu started playing with. He posted his itty bitty creations (all edible, of course) on instagram and his tiny Air Jordans and other NBA gear quickly garnered a near worshipful fan following. Nearly 40,000 followers later he’s expanded into outfits, sushi versions of famous art, and the most delightful portraits — all made out of traditional Japanese rice balls, called onigiri.

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

 

Twenty-nine-year-old Yujia Hu is the man behind Onigiri Art. He was born in Zhejiang, China, but at 8, he moved to Milan where his parents own a sushi restaurant. After high-school, he started studying art, but had to quit in order to join the family business (something every Indian can understand). Here he became the sushi chef, but, clearly, his fingers still itched to create art!

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

Working with sushi rice, which is dense and chunky, along with other ingredients that go into traditional sushi such as nori (seaweed), gari (pickled ginger) and seafood like shake (salmon) and ebi (prawns).

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

A huge NBA fan, he started first with the iconic sneakers, making a name for himself with his Fila, Converse and Nike shoeshi! Then he moved on to portraits of the superstars themselves: Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and branching off into people like Frida Kahlo and Drake!

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

We’re not much into basketball ourselves but we’re delighted with his take on modern art.

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

Who could bear to consume such adorable versions of The Kiss by Klimt and The Scream by Munch even when they’re served on your plate? There are also absolutely adorable little portraits of fictional characters like Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Captain Haddock from Tintin.

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

If you drop in at his restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ll see some cool creations as well as some really tasty sushi. But, because each of his shoeshi is very time consuming, Hu now does them only by commission. His creative juices are still flowing though and he continues to create loafers and high heels as well as Jimmy Choos!

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

At the same time, there are rappers, pop art, and street style galore. Creating the logos and the details in miniature, he says, is the hardest part, but that attention and painstaking work is what’s got him so much attention. This is why pop band Fall Out Boy and designer Riccardo Tisci count among his followers!

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

You can follow Yujia Hu on many social media sites, including instagram and facebook

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

If you’re in Milan, visit the Sakana Sushi restaurant for fresh shoeshi! And if you’re not able to travel so far, there’s a DIY instruction book for you to make your own Air Jordans, Classic Converse and Vans. The 64-page Shoeshi book has detailed recipes and costs  £9.00. All you need, as the description says, is rice!

Image Courtesy: TheOnigiriArt/Yujia Hu

 

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