Nikkei Restaurant Group: At the Helm of the Philippines’ Cross-Cultural Culinary Scene

The restaurant group’s recent tie-up with Japanese-Peruvian chefs brims with Nikkei deliciousness

In the dynamic culinary landscape of the Philippines, Nikkei Restaurant Group has emerged as a trailblazer in fusion gastronomy, seamlessly blending captivating cuisines to create an unparalleled dining experience.

The group, founded in 2015 by husband and wife dynamo, Carlo G. Lorenzana and Jackie Lorenzana, is home to a number of exciting culinary concepts, the flagship of which is Nikkei restaurant, a haven of appetizing Japanese and Peruvian flavors.

“Nikkei is the reflection of the Japanese influence on the Peruvian gastronomy. The ingredients of both cultures complement each other as if they had been born to be one. It is an honest cuisine with unique textures and flavors,” the group says.

Its tie-up with top-rated Japanese-Peruvian chefs, Renato Kanashiro and Jorge “Coco” Tomita of lauded Shizen Restaurante Nikkei in San Isidro, Peru, shines the spotlight even more brightly on all-things Nikkei. Leveraging their expertise and deep understanding of both culinary traditions, Chefs Renato and Coco bring a fresh perspective to the Nikkei Restaurant Group’s table, infusing classic Japanese-Peruvian dishes with contemporary twists and inventive flair.

With the input and skill of Chefs Renato and Coco, alongside Nikkei Restaurant Group’s very own Chef Richie Buenaventura, the group is now poised to introduce a remarkable roster of exciting new dishes that marry tradition with innovation, tantalizing taste buds and redefining culinary boundaries.

Nikkei is the reflection of the Japanese influence on the Peruvian gastronomy. The ingredients of both cultures complement each other as if they had been born to be one. It is an honest cuisine with unique textures and flavors.

Nikkei Group

In celebration of a harmonious fusion

Nikkei cuisine, born from the Japanese diaspora in Peru, celebrates the harmonious fusion of Japanese techniques and Peruvian ingredients. It is rooted in a blending of both cultures that has become a distinct way of life, influencing Peru’s gastronomy.

“The evolution of Nikkei-Peruvian culture is not only in the gastronomic part; it’s in our tradition, our identity, and this identity lends itself nicely to our cuisine,” Chef Coco pointed out, at a food tasting event held by the group at its Nikkei Robata in Greenbelt 3, Makati City.

Over three decades ago, a number of Japanese corporations set up shop in Peru; understandably, the executives of these corporations sought dishes that were high-end yet homey. Japanese-Peruvian chefs created such dishes utilizing Japan’s precision-based culinary methods and Peru’s abundance of fresh, flavor-rich local ingredients. This unique culinary marriage resulted in vibrant, flavorful dishes that captivated diners with their complexity and depth, thrusting Nikkei cuisine to the forefront of fusion food favorites and fine dining. Eventually, the fusion cuisine even found its way to Peruvian street food, developing an even larger, more mass-based appeal.

“Nikkei refers to Japanese born outside of Japan; Nikkei cuisine was actually born in Peru, with the Japanese who lived there years ago. Peruvians took the Japanese techniques and incorporated them into their own style of cooking; into their own culinary traditions. Peru has taken Japanese culinary culture and also made it part of its own. Which is why many of our dishes look Japanese, but they have a Peruvian punch of flavors. Peruvian dishes usually have a kick to them, because the base of our cuisine is the use of peppers. We use a variety of different chilies in most of our dishes, so you will feel a nice punch to the flavors,” Chef Renato explained.

A mouthwatering medley of flavors

One of the defining characteristics of Japanese-Peruvian cuisine is its emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Drawing from Peru’s robust fishing sector and the country’s biodiversity, and taking inspiration from Japan’s reverence for the freshest, finest bounty of the sea, Nikkei dishes often feature a colorful array of seafood, including tuna, salmon, and octopus, sourced from the Pacific Ocean. These ingredients are complemented by an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, such as aji amarillo and other types of peppers, cilantro, and yuzu, which add depth and complexity to the dishes.

When it comes to flavor profiles, Japanese-Peruvian cuisine is a mouthwatering medley of sweet, sour, spicy, and umami notes. While Japanese cuisine is known for its precision and simplicity, Peruvian cooking is characterized by bold and hearty dishes. Nikkei cuisine expertly combines these contrasting styles, resulting in a diversity of daring, delectable dishes. Traditional Japanese ingredients like soy sauce, miso, and mirin are seamlessly integrated with Peruvian staples such as aji chili peppers, lime juice, and cilantro, resulting in a harmonious balance of flavors. One iconic example of this fusion is ceviche, Peru’s national dish of raw fish marinated in citrus juices and spices, which is often given a Japanese twist with the addition of soy sauce and sesame oil, in Nikkei cuisine.

Pushing the boundaries of traditional cuisine

From tiradito and ceviche to nigiri and maki dishes, every item on the 30-strong roster of new offerings created by Chefs Coco, Renato, and Richie for Nikkei Restaurant Group is a showcase of flavor, freshness, fusion, and flair. Drawing from the Philippine food setting, as well, the chefs have concocted delectable dishes that pay homage to Japanese, Peruvian, and Filipino culinary cultures, pleasing local and foreign palates, alike. This ever-evolving, innovative approach to fusion cuisine has enabled the group to carve a niche for itself in the Philippine culinary scene.

By embracing diversity and deliciousness, Nikkei Restaurant Group continues to dynamically push the boundaries of traditional cuisine, offering diners a delightful gastronomic experience across its array of restaurants and dining concepts.  And, as more and more food enthusiasts experience the group’s unique culinary offerings, it won’t be long before they become aficionados of the palate-pleasing pleasures of Nikkei gastronomy.

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