Across the world, Nikkei is a term for Japanese people living abroad. In Peru it also signifies a kind of Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine. Early Nikkei immigrants added small Japanese touches to Peruvian ingredients. Today’s Nikkei chefs bring even more Japanese flavor to the table. Travelers can experience high-end Nikkei cuisine at such spectacular new restaurants as Maido, helmed by Mitsuharu Tsumura, a young Peruvian-Japanese chef trained in Japan. Tsumura creates modern dishes that blend classic Japanese food with Peruvian accents, including nigiri topped with marinated skirt steak and a flash-fried quail’s egg. Several older family-run Nikkei restaurants, including El Encuentro Otani, have also been inspired to innovate: Once a week, Chef Lalo Otani serves special ceviche sushi rolls with a creamy sauce of leche de tigre (ceviche juice). “What will Nikkei cuisine be in 20 years?” asks Tsumura. “We are just starting. The possibilities are infinite.”
Illustration by Wendy MacNaughton. This appeared in the March/April 2014 issue.