Nikkei cuisine is grounded in centuries of culinary history, weaving the influence of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines, but it will be the freshest flavour to sample here in Canberra in 2021, with the opening of Inka in January.
Michael Muir will be the executive chef, a coup for the Canberra dining scene. Previously he has been executive chef at the acclaimed Zuma in London and Istanbul, restaurants known for a sophisticated twist on Japanese dining.
Muir has a wealth of culinary experience with some of the world's leading hospitality brands. He began his career training with one of Australia's most influential chefs, Neil Perry, at the renowned Rockpool restaurant in Sydney. He also played an influential role for one of the world's largest hospitality groups, D&D Group, in launching venues across London, New York and Paris.
"The menu will be heavily focused around tropical seafood incorporating Japanese precision of cutting raw fish and treating it with simple, refined flavours," Muir says.
"Traditionally inexpensive Peruvian dishes are dressed up with Japanese skill, citrus and spice."
Adam Elchakak is one of the masterminds behind the project. He was behind the opening of Raku and has teamed up with hospitality consultants Sunny Matharu and Kiehyon Yoo to finesse and deliver the concept as a strong trio.
Matharu and Yoo previously managed some of the highest profile restaurants in Sydney and are playing critical roles on the floor and behind the extravagant bar.
"Inka Bar will be a harmonious execution of interesting and exotic cocktails, an intelligent global wine list and beverage selection, within an impetus of passionate and informed service," says Yoo.
"The Nikkei concept will promote an enticing scope of cocktail styles and flavours from both Japan and South America - combining finesse and balance with the wild and tropical."
Interiors have been handled by Peruvian interior designer Patricia Barbis from Studio Barbis in Lima, Peru.
"We designed a space that has all the richness of Peruvian colours, texture and craft within a clean-line Japanese architectural language," she says.
"Just like the Nikkei people living in Peru, they look Japanese but they have acquired the liveliness and colourful personality of Peruvians."
Some Peruvian elements that have been applied architecturally are the textile patterns interpreted as a tapestry on the stairs to the mezzanine along with a giant "Quipus", which is an ancient Inca tool for registering and communicating complex information.
"The restaurant also features a "Cuchimilco" wall. These are clay statues from an ancient coastal culture from Peru that represent fertility and protection."
Peru has the second largest ethnic Japanese population in South America and the community has made a significant cultural impact on the country since the Japanese first began to migrate in the late 19th century.
Nikkei cuisine has swept the globe, one of the best known proponents is Nobu Matsuhisa in his various Nobu restaurants through Europe. Ferram Adria, the former El Bulli chef, now of Pakta in Barcelona where Nikkei is the base for the menu.
Inka is expected to open in January 2021 at 148 Bunda St.