Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Convergence of Peruvian and Japanese Flavors at Nikkei

The Japanese diaspora that started as early as the 12th century and peaked at the end of the Second World War in Asia has to led to the creation of a unique culinary fusion of flavors. With a sizeable Japanese community in Peru, it was just a matter of time before the world discovered the creative confluence of Peruvian and Japanese flavors...

Nikkei, which refers to Japanese migrants and their descendants who have established their own communities outside of Japan, is the perfect name for the unique dining establishment at Rockwell with its innovative and modern take on Peruvian-Japanese cuisine. Nikkei is also the popular term to describe this gastronomic blend of east and west, and you can have a taste of it right here at One Rockwell West...

The core of Peruvian-Japanese cuisine lies with the use of the freshest ingredients, and Chef Juan Barcos (L) makes sure that each ingredient, including locally-sourced sustainable seafood, are of the highest quality. The clean flavors of Peruvian-Japanese cuisine demand freshness, and that's what you get at Nikkei.

Both cuisines, each coming from opposite ends of the world, complement the other with fresh seafood as its base highlighted by the iconic Peruvian ceviche and the popular Japanese sushi. And when you combine fresh seafood with the indigenous ingredients of Latin America like corn, native peppers, lime and sweet potatoes, the results can be interesting, even sublime, opening up your palate to one of the world's truly global cuisines. The Pomelito (P 225) is the ideal way to get acquainted with Peruvian-Japanese cuisine with sustainable line-caught tuna sliced paper-thin in the traditional Peruvian Tiraditos style topped with passion fruit, caramelized sunflower seeds, pomelo and mango. The fresh and vibrant notes of pomelo and mango brighten up the briny sweetness of the tuna for delicately balanced flavors.

The Tuna Latke (P 320) with delicately seared tuna laid on crisp potato pancakes with huancaina sauce, cilantro and lemon offers a delectable play on contrasting textures and flavors with the fresh and clean notes of tuna layered by the crispness of the latke. It's a playful spin on the traditional Peruvian potato dish draped in a creamy and mildly spicy sauce, replaced by the crisp potato pancake. The addition of seared tuna just adds even more depth and flavor, and you'll definitely want another go at the last piece.

The traditional Peruvian Classic Ceviche (P 320) with succulent white fish, red onions, rocoto, cilantro, canchita, and glazed sweet potatoes is a must-try at Nikkei. Authenticity and freshness define the ceviche, with fresh seafood draped in lime juice for clean flavors, kicked up by just a whisper of heat from the red onions and chili. The sweet potatoes and canchitas or toasted corn add that distinct sweet and nutty Peruvian finish to the dish. And no, the flavors are not at all close to our local kinilaw. If you ask Chef Juan Barcos, he'll immediately tell you that both dishes are worlds apart. The Peruvian ceviche has more delicate flavors without the sharpness of vinegar allowing you to taste more of the subtle notes of the fish. And if you want the real thing, you'll find it here at Nikkei.

The Ebi Furai (P 295-5 pcs/P 545-10 pcs) is just one of many signature rolls and temaki at Nikkei with fried prawns, avocado, white fish, Ceviche sauce and togarashi. The creamy ceviche sauce, called Leche de Tigre, is the citrus-based marinade used to cure fresh seafood with hints of onions and chili. And it just works so well with the Ebi Furai. It's a refreshing alternative from the usual soy dip, and that's what Nikkei is all about. 

The Fideo Saltado (P 595) is the flavorful Peruvian spin on "chow mien" with shrimp, snapper, squid, vegetables and egg yolk coming together in a light yet satisfying dish. The soft noodles, the fresh notes of the assorted seafood and egg yolk conspire to deliver vibrant flavors with a rustic richness. As with all the dishes of Nikkei, the fresh ingredients bring on all the flavors.

The Seared Tuna with Sea Urchin Risotto (P 680) is another must-try at Nikkei with tuna steak, uni with enoki and shiitake mushroom risotto, cilantro, togarashi and katsuobushi. Combining a hearty and comforting risotto with fresh tuna, it's meal in itself. The dish is elegantly plated feeding first the eyes before the palate in true Japanese style. 

The creamy risotto delivers deep, nutty notes from the mushrooms and uni, pairing perfectly with the clean, briny flavors of the tuna capped by the rich togarashi spice blend and smoky dried bonito flakes. The dish is yet another fusion of east and west, masterfully executed at Nikkei.

After a sumptuous feast, Nikkei has the perfect sweet treat to cap your dining experience. The Picarones (P 380), a sweet potato and cinnamon fried dough served with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream, is the perfect ending to your meal. And before you can even say it, Chef Juan Barcos preempts you by declaring this is not a doughnut. Made from pumpkin and sweet potatoes, picarones are a traditional Peruvian dessert created as an alternative to the Spanish bunuelos using local and indigenous ingredients. The distinct sweet hints of pumpkin and sweet potato add uniquely Peruvian flavors, with the smooth vanilla ice cream and maple syrup delivering even more layers of sweet indulgence.  

Nikkei also serves Brunch Sets from Monday to Saturday, 11:30 am to 5pm featuring innovative dishes like the Nikkei Benedict (P 480) with poached egg on a steamed bun with tuna, prawns, and crisp potato strings draped in creamy hollandaise sauce...

All sets come with a bowl of Miso Soup for brunch with that Nikkei spin. The richness of the poached egg covered in hollandaise sauce are tempered by the bright notes of the tuna and prawns followed by the crispness of the thin potato strings. Potatoes are an essential starch component in Latin American cuisine, and used in many of Nikkei's dishes.

The Sea Bass Katsu Set (P 495) includes crisp and succulent sea bass served with gohan, a side salad and fried egg for a heftier brunch. The delicate sea bass just melts in your mouth, contrasting with its crisp outer layer of katsu-style breading. The use of premium sea bass makes this dish stand out from the usual katsu for another flavorful surprise from Nikkei. Other brunch options include the Arroz Chaufa Set (P 495), a Peruvian-Chinese fried rice with smoked salmon and Japanese omelette.

Enjoy your meal with a refreshing beverage like the Strawberry Basil Lemonade (P 160), fresh squeezed lemonade with strawberry sauce, soda and basil or have a tipple with Nikkei's wide selection of wine, spirits and craft cocktails (check out the link below for Nikkei's Wine All You Can offering on their FB Page).

Cap your Peruvian-Japanese feast with their signature Nikkei Blend Black Onyx, a soothing and full-bodied brew for that perfect ending at Nikkei. Nikkei is also owned and managed by the same group behind Single Origin, so they know their coffee (for more on Single Origin, see my earlier post, Bringing Back That Neighborhood Cafe Vibe at Single Origin). Freshness and authenticity with a bold and creative spin. Peruvian and Japanese flavors converge...at Nikkei.

Nikkei is located at the Ground Floor, One Rockwell West, West Tower, Rockwell, Makati City or visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/nikkeiph/ for more information and updates.

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