Gino was born in Seoul, South Korea. He began his cooking career at age 13, working part-time as a kitchen helper in an Italian restaurant (in Korea). While in school for music during his late teenage years, Gino worked two part-time jobs, as a cook and a custom motorcycle mechanic.
By age 22 the majority of his family immigrated to the United States and Gino followed. His love for sushi came from his grandfather, who was raised in Japan. Gino took numerous trips with his grandfather to Japan, where the two bonded overeating sushi at the local fish markets.
He opened a sushi restaurant in Tustin soon after arriving in 2003. Through random circumstance, Gino found a mentor in Kikuchi Hideaki, sushi chef and owner of Kikusui in Torrance. Gino was used to cooking Japanese fusion, but under Kikuchi’s tutelage, Gino learned traditional sushi techniques.
By 2007 Gino opened a new sushi restaurant, Kaori in Fullerton, where he achieved a large following of locals and non-locals over 11 years. He recently sold his stake in the restaurant to open OMG.
Gino wants OMG to highlight his skills in selecting the best seafood and preparing it with exacting simplicity; for the space to honor tradition and welcome experimentation within the same meal.
“The first time I opened a restaurant, it was to make money,” Gino said. “After I met my mentor, I opened restaurants because I wanted to be a chef. He taught me, simple is the best. Always.”