Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki was born on October 9, 1938 in Tokyo, Japan. He was the first born son of Yunosuke Aoki, a samurai descendant and his wife Katsu Aoki. Rocky’s parents met at Yunosuke’s dance class where he taught tap. Yunosuke taught himself to tap dance watching Fred Astaire movies. They married and opened a Jazz coffee shop, which they named Ellington after their favorite jazz musician Duke Ellington. Yunosuke changed the theme of the coffee shop to a sweet shop specializing in desserts during the war. There was a strong demand for sweets and Yunosuke knew how to seize the moment. Yunosuke met a talented chef,Fujisake, who inspired him to open a full service restaurant.
The duo traveled all over world to find delicious sauces. The restaurant became well known for its mouth watering sauces. Yunosuke named his restaurant Benihana after a red safflower flower he saw in the rubble of war torn Tokyo. Rocky and his three brothers all learned the restaurant business from the ground up through their mentor, their father. Yunosuke taught them the importance of a clean kitchen, using the freshest ingredients and showmanship.More