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 at Inka restaurant, opening on March 11.
The much anticipated opening has been delayed due to COVID, as much of the fitout has come directly from Peru, including a stunning hanging quipus, which is a traditional piece that uses a variety of strings, colours and knots to record information, and a wall of unglazed terracotta cuchimilco figurines which are commonly found in burial sites.
"One thing we've learned over the years is that dining out these days is about the whole experience," says co-owner Sunny Matharu.
"We wanted to create an environment where when people walk in the door they're transported to somewhere else. Especially during these times, where there's no travel going on in the world, it's quite nice to give people an escape for the time they are with us."
Matharu, along with co-owners Kiehyon Yoo and Adam Elchakak (who was also behind the opening of Raku, a little further along Bunda Street), have turned the two-level restaurant into a destination. There are feature stone-look walls reminiscent of Machu Picchu, large quartz and marble tables suitable for groups and several private booths over both levels. There's a row of seats along a low bar right in front of the kitchen, close to the action, and a separate bar area with colourful prints and lanterns and low tables, and a drinks list that will muddle flavours of both regions.
While Japanese and Peruvian cuisines might seem like an odd mix, Matharu says Nikkei cuisine is the perfect combination of fresh Peruvian ingredients such as seafood, peppers and fruits and Japanese techniques.
Michael Muir will lead a kitchen of chefs from a diverse range of backgrounds. He has chefs from Japan, Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia in charge of a kitchen where a wood-fired robata grill and charcoal Josper oven sit alongside delicate ceviche and sashimi stations.
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 lean towards small plates to share. There'll be 54 dishes during the opening weeks but Matharu says the list will be fluid as the kitchen experiments with ingredients and flavours.
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, 148 Bunda St, City, opens March 11.
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