Sushi chef with decades of experience joins Dōzo in downtown Dayton

‘I like to make something that will make people smile.’

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Head Sushi Chef Yudi Alviando is bringing decades of experience to Dōzo, an elevated sushi concept located in the back room of Tender Mercy in downtown Dayton.

Alviando is originally from Indonesia. He moved to the United States at 27 years old in 2000 when the economy crashed in his country. He said he always knew he would either become a mechanic or chef when he moved to the U.S. Before he made the move, he was working at a Hilton hotel in Indonesia for about five years and had worked his way up to sous-chef.

“I’ve been working through restaurants (and) hotels,” Alviando said. “It’s in my blood.”

A breakfast restaurant in Indonesia

At 9-years old he started helping his mother at a small, breakfast restaurant in Indonesia that she owned and operated for 20 years. The restaurant was open from 6 to 10 a.m. serving the nearby workers traditional Indonesian breakfast food like porridge, rice, noodles and martabak (a stuffed pancake).

“A restaurant is hard work. You have to commit 100 percent,” Alviando said.

He described his mom as his mentor. Alviando said she taught him his very first skills in the kitchen before he attended the Jakarta International Culinary School from 1993 to 1995.

“I like to make something that will make people smile,” Alviando said. “My mother told me, “You don’t make what you like. You make what people like.””

A culinary career in the states

He took those words of wisdom to his first job in Evansville, Indiana at Iwataya Japanese Restaurant. The restaurant served traditional Japanese food.

Alviando honed in on his sushi skills while working at the restaurant full-time and worked a second job at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana. Alviando said he considers working on cars to be one of his hobbies.

He currently lives in Columbus with his wife of 27 years. Before accepting the job at Dōzo, he was working at the Mandrake Rooftop in Columbus as a sushi chef for two years.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Alviando decided he wanted to go back to the old school, traditional way of doing sushi and visited friends in Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas, Texas to learn how to do omakase — a unique, curated dining experience where guests leave it up to the chef.

He said he was interested in learning about omakase because he likes interacting with guests and educating them on what they are eating.

Chris Dimmick, co-owner of Tender Mercy, reached out to Alviando about joining Dōzo. Alviando described it as “perfect timing” and said he is very fortunate to find this type of position close to home.

“That’s what I was looking for,” Alviando said. “I was happy there was one finally in Ohio.”

Creating an experience

Alviando started as the head sushi chef at Dōzo just more than a month ago. He described the restaurant as a modern omakase experience. He uses traditional techniques, but adds something extra to the nigiri or sashimi to make it western-style.

“People like to see what you do here,” Alviando said. “It’s an open kitchen.”

Dōzo offers a prix fixe three-course meal for $65 featuring fresh, high-quality fish. Customers will receive Hiyayakko Tofu for the first course, followed by eight pieces of sushi for the second and third courses and Daiuku Mochi to finish the meal. Additional pieces of sushi can be added, as well as the chef’s special.

Alviando said the most important part of the meal is the rice.

“You have to make perfect rice. If you mess up the rice, you very much mess up everything,” Alviando said.

It take years for a chef to perfect rice. Alviando uses aged red vinegar, mirin and a little salt when making his rice.

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

His current chef’s special is salmon tataki with miso chipotle.

“I’m learning about the people in Dayton because it’s not like the Columbus market,” Alviando said. “I like this challenge. It’s a good challenge for me.”

Outside of Dōzo

When Alviando isn’t at Dōzo, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He said he typically cooks mostly Indonesian food at home, but enjoys eating a variety of other cuisines.

He hasn’t had the chance to explore the Dayton dining scene, but some of his favorite restaurants in Columbus includes Buckeye Pho, Yemeni Restaurant and Domo Sushi Kitchen Bar. If he’s not eating at a small family restaurant, you will most likely find him at a food truck. It’s important to Alviando to support small businesses because his mother owned her own restaurant and he knows how hard it is to build a business.

Alviando said he’s proud that he was able to make his dream of becoming an omakase chef into a reality. He’s even more excited that the opportunity is in Dayton, close to his family.

“It’s not about the money,” Alviando said. “It’s about the family for me.”

More details

Dōzo is open for reservations from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit

About the Author