Nikkei cuisine, a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian foods that began in Lima, is going to become major international news this year. While this type of cuisine will likely get considerable more attention this year in Lima as Maido’s Mitsuharu Tsumura completes his book on Nikkei cuisine and Hajime Kasuga’s star continues to rise, two major Nikkei restaurants will open in 2013 outside of Peru.
In 2012 several restaurants in Peru, Mexico, and Brazil inched their way up the World’s Best list and countless superb new restaurants opened. Last month I met with Noma founder Claus Meyer in Copenhagen and his words were “I think South America is the next continent.” He was talking about food and restaurants and the sheer amount of opportunity there for haute cuisine. There is much to look forward to…
While Tiradito is a Nikkei invention (Japanese Peruvian), it’s not only a Nikkei dish anymore. Tiradito is served in some form – usually several – in nearly every cevicheria in Peru. A cousin to ceviche, tiradito is more thinly sliced, much like sashimi.
Nikkei restaurants have been on the rise in Lima for the past several years. The Peruvian-Japanese fusion spots are home to some of the most technically skilled chefs anywhere in Peru, though with the addition of sophisticated restaurants such as Central and Manfiesto in recent years they have been overshadowed. That is about to change. Hajime Kasuga, you know him from his work at Hanzo, a Nikkei restaurant that was exported to Santiago, has opened this week his new restaurant: H, or Ache.
On a recent night in Rio de Janeiro I went to the restaurant Carlota without a reservation. There were people milling around outside and when I asked the waitress if there was a table, she replied with a wait time that was well beyond my hunger limit. Carlota would have to wait. I wandered around the Leblon neighborhood looking for somewhere simple. The neon light Koni store appeared before me like a mirage in the desert.
Few realize just how abundant Nikkei cuisine is in Lima. In Peru, the ancestral cooking style fuses traditional Japanese with Peruvian to make some of the most interesting takes on one of the world’s great culinary brands. The international media in their new love of Peruvian cuisine consistently overlooks Nikkei chefs, however, many of the top fine dining restaurants in Lima are in fact Nikkei. Examples: Osaka, Hanzo, and Costanera 700.