This love month, experience an exquisite candlelight dinner at Nikkei
A gastronomic delight from the time it opened its first restaurant in 2015, Nikkei has long championed the Japanese influence on Peruvian cuisine, and has been a personal dining favorite of mine. Founded by Carlo Lorenzana, with a menu created by chef Christian Cejas that constantly evolves, the month-long Valentine’s degustation of Nikkei is the perfect introduction to their new menu—one that should be part of its regular menu in a few months’ time. Trust me on this, it’s never too soon to be delighted by their new dishes.
The degustation kicks off with the tiradito callao—sushi slices of white fish that’s delicately flavored with a salad sauce, furikake, tsuma, sea salt, lime, and topped with tobiko (fish roe). The second course is a wasabi ceviche, onions, cilantro, sesame oil, pistachio nuts, and the leche de tigre (a citrus marinade) cutting through the wasabi and chili. This one gets up your nose in a great way. In fact, these two courses alone were well worth the price of admission in terms of taste and flavor. Yes, this duo of contrasts were divine intervention of a culinary type.
We were then served the slate of nigiri. The squid tempura was heavily influenced by the ceviche mayo, while the truffle salmon had fried nori accentuating the aburi salmon belly. The smoked ebi was my favorite of the four, smoked but still retaining firmness and texture. As for the wagyu skirt, it was our flirtation with beef, the aburi oil and potato strings giving the beef a medley of flavors.
We then had the salmon harusame; the salmon, leeks, and cucumber, complemented by the dollop of cream cheese—a perennial Japanese favorite. The kainomi was my preferred dish between these two; shrimp, asparagus, and wagyu skirt all enveloped by the onion, fried sweet potato, cabbage, leeks, and salt.
The peach-flavored sake and the daiginjo sake were two of the four sake pairings; and I mention these two because they were the ones that really surprised me with flavor and/or smoothness. I don’t personally imbibe alcohol, but taking sips of these two made me wish I wasn’t allergic to alcohol.
The duck breast tataki was essentially our main course, and the bed of potato cream the duck slices lie on were truly filling. It’s as if the initial courses weren’t enough. At this point, it’s an inner struggle between knowing you’re full but loving the consistency and taste of this potato cream…the potato cream won!
And now we’ve reached the dessert course, matcha truffles. This is white chocolate truffles paired with matcha and cashew nuts, topped with a slice of strawberry. You may be stuffed at this juncture of the meal, but believe me, you don’t want to miss on this.
Nikkei’s Valentine degustation is a month-long February treat, the sake pairings coming from Philippine Wine Merchants. It’s available at both its branches at Rockwell and Podium. If ever you want to eat to your heart’s delight, here’s your red letter day opportunity. It’s Peruvian-Japanese cuisine at its finest.