#GramGen is a series profiling the most radical characters in youth culture, who continue to shape trend behavior and spark controversy through their avant fashion sense and candid social media personalities.
Meet Yujia Hu, aka @onigiriart, the itamae causing an online ripple with his “shoe-shi” creations. A streetwear fanatic and dyed in the wool sneakerhead, Yujia has amassed an online following by channeling his passions into the workplace. Born in China but based in Milan, when Yujia isn’t busy behind the counter at his family’s restaurant, he’ll often be found conjuring up tiny works of edible art inspired by the #culture.
Using rice, raw fish, nori, and whatever other ingredients he can get his hands on, Yujia’s designs vary from Vans Old Skools and Conor McGregor, to adidas NMDs and Lil Uzi Vert. (The latter, it would appear, was pretty pleased with how his caricature turned out.)
Now boasting over 50,000 Instagram followers, we thought it would be the perfect time to hit up the onigiri wizard and get the lowdown on his too-pretty-to-eat creations.
How old are you?
I’m 28 years old.
Where are you from and where do you live currently?
I’m originally from China, but I’ve been living in Milan since I was eight years old.
Where do you work?
At my family’s Japanese restaurant, Sakana, in Milan.
When did you start training to become an Itamae?
I started when I was just 18. I had to leave my studies (I was attending an art school) to manage my family’s sushi takeaway. Here, I learned the art of sushi from a master sushi chef.
Which chefs do you look up to?
Gordon Ramsey is my favorite at the moment. I love his energy and passion for his job.
What is the most difficult sushi sneaker to prepare?
That would be the Jordan 4, as it has a lot of details.
And how about the most difficult rapper?
Lil Uzi Vert has to be the one which I found most difficult; it took me about 40 minutes to recreate him.
What inspired you to start making sushi in the form of rappers, sneakers and streetwear?
I’ve always listened to hip-hop music, so it was impossible not to be influenced by [rappers] and their way of style. Streetwear is everywhere right now, so I was inevitably influenced by it.
Away from the kitchen, what are your hobbies?
I love playing basketball in my spare time and listening to music.
What are your favorite brands at the moment?
I have to say Supreme attracts me a lot, maybe because their products are not so commonplace. They always have a “wow” factor for me.
How about your favorite sneakers?
The Pharrell Williams x adidas NMD Hu. But it’s difficult to find!
What are your plans for the future?
I’m definitely hoping to collaborate with some big brand. Why not? Perhaps even Supreme!