New Restaurant Alert: Nikkei at Legazpi Village, Makati

Only good things come out when you mix Japanese with Peruvian.

Nikkei
Frabelle Building, Rada Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Contact: 0927-273-0114, 880-0231
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

 

 

(SPOT.ph) Mention a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant some four short years ago, and you would’ve been greeted with a strange quizzical look. Now, say Japanese-Peruvian, and reactions are bound to be an excited “Where?!? Let's go!”

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This fusion is called Nikkei (roughly translated to "Japanese out of Japan") and it is, to make a long story short, a culture of fireworks in your mouth: seafood-oriented, bolstered by bold, fun pops of flavor.

 

It’s not an entirely surprising combination. South America has a large Japanese community, and both cuisines are rooted in fresh seafood. Imagine sushi and sashimi, but with corn, peppers, and lots of citrus: white fish with limes, nigiri with yuzu lemon, shrimp with togarashi.

 

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Rada is the place to be.

 

Nikkei, the style, has been one of the most fashionable cuisines to invade the globe, and Metro Manila, with its fast-growing culinary diversity isn’t too late into the game. The latest to join this flashy fare is Nikkei, the restaurant—a tiny, fashionable outlet on Rada Street.

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Parmesan Scallops (P180)

 

Nikkei the restaurant was developed from the combined forces of the Violagos (owners of Ba Noi’s) and Lorenzanas (owners of Shi Lin, Refinery). A big open kitchen and bar, which takes up nearly half the space, is where you can see 28-year-old chef Cristian Cejas primp plate after plate of taste bud-tingling goodies.

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Most of the menu is served in smaller portions, tapas-like and good with sake. A bite, however, is usually enough to tell a tale. This is certainly the case for their tasting spoons—a candy-sized scallop with a little tease of cheese in a tiny pond of Japanese butter. It’s as if Chef Cristian is trying to make a good first impression, blowing you away with this icebreaker. The problem is that little spoonful is intriguing enough to make you find out more about that story.

 

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Tako Confitado (P260)

 



Mango Nigiri

 

The scallops are only the beginning. There are tako skewers dressed in sweetish panka-miso glaze, sushi blessed with a ceviche core, and nigiri with a torched blanket of mango—all different levels of tangy thrills.

 

Curious are the thumb-sized nibbles topped with festooned seafood. They’re called causa, explains co-owner Monica Violago. The dark yellow base resembles a wrap, but they’re actually potato platforms highlighting lip-smacking fish. Guacamole and togarashi fox the tangy sensation, but nuances play a role and each option has its own special swagger—hot rocoto sauce for the ebi (P110) and chalaquita—another Peruvian salsa—for the salmon (P120).

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Ebi Causa and Salmon Causa

 

 

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Panko (P140/five pieces, P280/10 pieces)

 

Run with the ceviches, too (it would be a crime to leave without ordering at least three). One, a peculiar green mound, is a jumble of octopus, prawns, and white fish emblazoned with a wasabi-tinted cream. The wasabi is a whisper, not at all overwhelming, and simply a foil to the tart streak from red onions, red chili, and cilantro. The Smoked Chili (P380) is a zinger, the mildly hot rocoto sauce smoked for an extra special touch. When all else fails, there’s Classic (P280), too—simple but not at all basic. 

 

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Green Ceviche (P360)

 


Classic

 



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Smoked Chili

 

The Peruvians have a special way of slicing their raw seafood. It’s called tiraditos, with is how they slice sashimi in Peru. They remind one of tataki, but a bit more dressed up. The signature Nikkei (P160) boasts a delicious namesake sauce, which turns up a surprise nuttiness. The Kocha (P140), meanwhile, utilizes crumbs of tea for flavor.

 

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Nikkei

 



Kocha

 

 

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Ebi Furai (P140/five pieces, P280/10 pieces)

 

Heavier items could be had from the sushi (the one which puts together white fish, shrimp, and avocado is genius) and a few well-chosen mains. The Miso Kurobuta (P550) uses miso-marinated short ribs cooked in a charcoal oven and enjoyed with the biting refreshment of wasabi coleslaw.

 

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Miso Kurobuta

 

Nikkei the cuisine may not be top-of-mind—yet—but it’s not hard to imagine this zippy style leaving an indelible mark on the Filipino palate. Nikkei the restaurant certainly did. 

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