Meet the Chef: Shoichiro Ukawa, Head Loco

Shoichiro Ukawa and his partner bravely opened their restaurant Head Loco just a month before Covid struck globally. Despite the unfortunate timing, they were inevitably thanked by supportive locals. 

Originally from Japan, Ukawa started running a backpackers in Christchurch for 20 years before deciding to make the adventurous switch to the culinary world.

He and his wife began with a food truck wanting to keep the jump into the food industry as smooth as possible in addition to moving to Tauranga. Though after just a year, the couple decided to take the venture of opening up their restaurant Head Loco. 

The Japanese and Hawaiian-inspired menu serves all the classic sought-after Japanese dishes such as donburi, Japanese curry, and sushi. However, what gives Head Loco that margin is their additions of fish and chips and organic Dear Deer coffee to accommodate further and rouse the local's taste.

"Our ingredients and cooking procedures are simple, but we put in a lot of time and effort. That is part of our ingredients, too," Ukawa explained.

"Don't forget to think about your customers' wants."

 The duo are pleased with the success of their business and would like to expand their restaurant to busier regions in the future. 

"We never thought we would run a food business, but we always have a great passion for food."