Homegrown restaurant Nikkei has always been a top of mind restaurant for discerning foodies looking to satisfy their Japanese-Peruvian cravings. When they opened their first branch in 2015 at Legazpi Village, there was no direction to go but up. Since then, they have expanded to other premium locations around Manila, launched a successful tasting menu a few months back, and have always kept up with demand, providing new and interesting dishes for patrons seeking out food that found the perfect balance between the flavors of Asia and Latin America. Their newly opened sister restaurant, Nikkei Nama, located at One Bonifacio High, is yet another hub for good food and drink. This time, Chef Juan Barcos has conceptualized 32 new dishes for the eatery, bringing a more expansive selection of Japanese-Peruvian gastronomy to Philippine shores.
The word “Nikkei” spans back hundreds of years ago, when a group of Japanese immigrants moved to South America, making traditional Japanese cuisine with locally available ingredients. They referred to this type of fusion as Nikkei cuisine. Adding the concept of “Nama” (which means “light and fresh”), the new Nikkei Nama has expanded their menu by using raw and fresh ingredients in the most innovative of ways. For instance, the Lima Roll is quite a revelation. Putting together three types of raw fish (white fish, salmon and tuna) with garden-fresh avocado and cucumber, and then topped with yuzu mayo aioli, it is a party in the mouth for anyone who enjoys inventive rolls. The Lima Roll is admittedly my personal favorite from the new menu items at Nikkei Nama.
The Avocado Maguro is the restaurant’s take on a poke bowl. The combination of avocado, raw tuna, cherry tomatoes, peanuts, and lettuce provides an interesting texture of soft and hard in the mouth. It is topped with a savory poke dressing that pulls the entire dish together. For the first time in a Nikkei restaurant, unagi is now being served. This is through the Unagi Asparagus Roll, which is packed with the flavors of unagu, asparagus, sesame seeds teriyaki sauce, and tobiko mayo.
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Another small plate that may capture the fancy of adventurous diners is the Tako with Potatoe Chips. It is yet another dish that plays with the idea of different textures. Make sure that with every bite you have equal parts of the grilled octopus, egg, potato strips, miso mayo katsuobushi and togarashi for an enhanced experience. Along with an excellent selection of raw dishes, Nikkei Nama’s cooked menu options are also must-tries. Explore their Nikkei Style Yakitori section for proteins grilled to charred perfection. A choice between their grilled wagyu skirt and free range chicken cuts may not be easy, so it is suggested to order both.
A visit to Nikkei Nama is far from complete without trying their Nama Bowls (served with miso soup). Exclusively available at the Fort-based restaurant, the menu option offers fluffy rice bowls topped with only the most premium of fish and protein. The choices vary. For admitted carnivores, the Seared Skirt Steak Bowl will tickle the taste buds. It includes a tender wagyu skirt, nori tempura, fried onion, chalaca, egg and leeks. If you’re a fan of fresh eel, we suggest the Unagi Don, which cleverly uses the Japanese delicacy, adding sesame seeds and nori tempura to highlight its flavors. Hands down, Lifestyle Asia’s ultimate Nama Bowl recommendation would be the Miso Cod Donburi. A rice bowl unlike no other, the Miso cod fish is extremely fresh and tender. The addition of cilantro salad hits all the right spots.
Lastly, for those who really want to indulge, the Iberico Pork Ribs is the ideal dish for you. Succulent, fatty (but just the right amount), and dripping with all the proper juices, it is an explosion of textures and flavors in the mouth. The dish is so good that it’s worth coming back to Nikkei Nama just for it. Cooked in a charcoal oven, the Iberico Pork Ribs is marinated in miso paste, hoisin and oyster sauce, and comes with a generous serving of chili corn and okra.
Cocktail selections at Nikkei Nama are the ideal pairing to wash down your feast. A refreshing glass of Sake Sangria will surely help cleanse the palette. Nikkei Nama’s new location (overlooking a park and Shangri-La at the Fort) is also a comforting sight. Ask to be seated al fresco and enjoy the sights and sounds of BGC while sipping on a cocktail. We also loved the Fuji Mori, a cocktail named after the Japanese-born Peruvian president, which ingeniously infuses Pisco, pineapple juice, matcha and tarragon. We’ll leave the flavors up to your imagination. Or might we suggest visiting Nikkei Nama yourself and exploring the Japanese-Latin menu one item at a time? It’s worth it!
Nikkei Nama is located at 2/F One Bonificio Hig, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For reservations or inquiries phone (0966) 533-7573.