Nikkei Introduces Japanese-Peruvian to ManilaSeptember 3, 2015
While there are a couple restaurants here and there around the city, South American cuisine has yet to make its big break in Manila. Nikkei, the newly opened Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in Legaspi Village, introduces South American food to Manila.
Nikkei in Nihongo is a term used for Japanese emigrants that have permanently settled abroad, and created a distinctive community of both the host and immigrant culture. This concept is used in the restaurant’s dishes and interior design: a blend of Japanese culture with heavy Peruvian accents. Their menu is an equal blend of both food cultures, combining Japanese techniques and flavors with Peruvian spices. Their sushi rolls had ceviche ingredients or mango and yellow pepper sauce, and their ceviches’ leche de tigre had wasabi or sesame oil. They maintained the Japanese element in their interiors with an izakaya-inspired open kitchen and bar. The motif was modern and raw with the combination of wood, concrete walls, and steel finishes. The place was brightly lit with different incandescent lamps and large glass windows and doors in the daytime.
Their head chefs Christian Cejas and Juan Barcos both have backgrounds in nikkei-inspired cuisine. Prior to Nikkei, Chef Cejas was the head chef in Osaka, a Japanese restaurant in Peru, and Chef Barcos was a consultant from the Argentinian steakhouse in Makati, La Cabrera. Both chefs are in charge of conceptualizing, experimenting, and creating Nikkei’s dishes.
The ceviche lover in me was giddy with excitement when I saw their list of options…there were so many interesting mixes! The classic was refreshing and tangy, and paired well with the sweet potatoes. But it was the green ceviche that won my heart with its hints of wasabi, and the crunchy potato strings to round it off texturally. The tiraditos were also something worth ordering; the Nikkei and Coco sauces were delicious when using succulent white fish or salmon.
From their mains, we had the seared tuna with huancaina risotto and cilantro salad as well as their kobe tamal, which has the beef served on top of crispy polenta, then topped with chalaquita. The tuna went well with the accompanying roasted tomato and yellow pepper sauces, and in the same bite, you should have the huancaina risotto, which was deliciously umami, and was a warm, tasty pairing to the expertly-seared fish.
It’s no wonder Nikkei was the talk of the town merely days after it opened its doors to the public. It offers something almost entirely new to the public, in a definitively cool setting. There are a lot of kinks that do need to be worked out, so beware–prices might seem a little steep, and service is still on sea legs. But if you want something different, Nikkei’s Japanese-Peruvian take on things are a fresh perspective in food.