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Japanese-Peruvian resto Nikkei is on a mission

Nikkei is on a mission to spread the gospel of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine. In just three years since it opened its first spot in Makati, it is poised to open its 4th branch at the BGC Stock Exchange building first week of November.

Dubbed as Nikkei Nama, (nama means “light and refreshing” in Japanese) the new 55-seater branch will offer a more relaxed ambiance as it opens its doors to a much younger and diverse clientele.

The brainchild of restaurateur-couple Carlo and Jackie Lorenzana, Nikkei is known for its sophisticated dining experience centered on cuisine created out of the homesickness of the original nikkei, a “Japanese outside of Japan.”

In the late 1800s, droves of Japanese settled in South America, including Peru. Wanting to recreate the taste of home in their new environs, they turned their distinct kitchen skills towards Peruvian ingredients and a new food tradition was born.

With its latest branch, Nikkei is hoping to attract a broader audience. “We don’t want to just market to a specific niche. We want to target everyone and for them to know they have a place here,” says Monica Modomo, Nikkei’s Marketing and Training Manager.

Even as it provides loyal guests with another branch to patronize, Nikkei Nama also hopes to serve diners from nearby offices and schools. Facing a more budget-conscious crowd with time constraints as far as meal breaks are concerned, Nikkei Nama is up to the challenge.

It aims to provide “something that’s valuable, affordable and quick to make,” says Monica. The goal is to serve food that “they can eat in 15 to 20 minutes, and mabubusog sila” without sacrificing the qualities Nikkei is known for: delectable dishes made from premium ingredients served in a relaxed, understated atmosphere.

SASHIMI REDUX. Delicately slivers of white fish topped with a medley of cilantro, chili, onion, corn and green apple.

Meanwhile, in other branches, things are shaking up.

First up is the introduction of monthly specials to their regular menu. At The Podium branch where we were, the blackboard menu includes the mouth-watering Wagyu Striploin Steak that consists of 200 grams of lightly seared wagyu beef slices and miso eggplant sautee on the side.

Then there is the intriguing chalaca, a livelier cousin of the sashimi with thin slices of raw white fish topped with a medley of cilantro, chili, onion, corn and green apple. It is quite the taste bud opener owing to the leche de tigre in which the toppings were marinated in. Leche de tigre or tiger’s milk is made from white fish puree, fish stock, lemon and lime and its this combination that gives their ceviche dishes that distinct tangy flavor.

CATCH IT WHILE YOU CAN. Lightly seared strips of premium wagyu beef served with miso eggplant puree.

Secondly, Nikkei is happy to announce the various culinary treats the restaurant has in store for their patrons.

Not feeling adventurous? No worries. Traditional Japanese menu fare are also available. In fact, they have an ongoing treat that let’s you have a sushi roll and iced tea for P199. It’s a great way to sample their excellent spicy tuna roll.

Dessert-wise, the doughnut-like Picarones is a pleasant surprise. It is made not with flour but with sweet potatoes and squash and comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. This is available as a merienda set with a complimentary cup of tea from 3-6 in the afternoon.

NOT YOUR REGULAR DONUT. The not-too-sweet and chewy Picarones is made of squash and sweet potatoes.

Also worth checking out are their carefully selected craft beers, cocktails, sake and wines. You might want to try the Pisco Sour, a somewhat tarty cocktail made of Pisco distilled brandy, Peru’s national drink, lemon, egg white and angostura bitters.

Remember the leche de tigre I mentioned earlier? I found out that it’s also a handy antidote for those who have had one Pisco Sour too many. One shot is enough to clear the fog for the drive home.

SOUTH AMERICAN CLASSIC. The refreshing Pisco Sour goes well with ceviche.

Oh and one more thing. Do take advantage of your food server’s knowledge. As part of their ongoing mission to educate our palates, your food server is also a walking encyclopedia about everything Nikkei.

Not only are they trained to serve you best – they're there to help diners figure out some of the more foreign-sounding offerings on the menu. – Rappler.com