Sushi Nikkei at Bixby Knolls to bring the Peruvian-Japanese cuisine craze to Long Beach • Hi-lo
But soon Long Beach will be home to a unique taste of Japanese gastronomy, which fuses the flavors of Peru with the culinary traditions of Japan, known as Nikkei (pronounced “nee-kay”). If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s probably because the cuisine’s popularity has only exploded in recent years, despite Nikkei being steeped in hundreds of years of Peruvian culinary history. And Sushi Nikkei is here to show Long Beach what it’s all about.
Owned by husband and wife team Eduardo Chang Ogata and Daiwa Wong Olano, Sushi Nikkei will take over La Casita Rivera on Atlantic Avenue and Bixby Road, marking the end of almost seven years of operation of the Mexican restaurant in Bixby Knolls.
Blair Cohn, executive director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, which broke the news online earlier this month, said the owners of La Casita Rivera have decided to retire, partly driven by the pains associated with it. to the pandemic, but also by the desire to have more time to spend with their grandchildren.
Interior construction is nearing completion and Sushi Nikkei’s menu is nearing completion, Wong Olano said. If the restaurant gets the green light from the city’s health service in time, Sushi Nikkei will welcome its first customers by the end of January 2022.
“We’re excited to see what they’re doing and to be a part of the community,” Cohn said of the new business.
As owner Wong Olano explained in a phone call, Sushi Nikkei is “… fusion cuisine, this is Peruvian style sushi. But this explanation is only an argument, because the Nikkei is a cuisine born of a cultural adaptation, a necessity which was less a question of experimentation than a nostalgia for the familiar taste of the house.
The word “Nikkei” is a Japanese term for the Japanese diaspora, it means “Japanese outside Japan”, but it was only later that the term came to include cuisine. It is estimated that between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries, two major waves of Asian migrants – many Chinese and Japanese – emigrated to Peru as new labor. In search of a taste of home, Japanese workers set out to recreate their cuisine, settling for abundant local ingredients such as tropical fish, quinoa and aji amarillo peppers, all of them characteristic ingredients of the Nikkei today.
Nikkei has also had a lasting impact on the Peruvian approach to food. Modern application to the country’s national dish, ceviche, indicates the influence of the Nikkei. Previously, raw fish would be marinated for hours, before Japanese immigrants taught Peruvians to handle fish more simply and to cook it lightly before adding the desired sauce or seasoning, with a great deal of effect.
Although Chinese descendants are more populated in Peru than the Japanese, the Japanese population in Peru is the second largest in all of Latin America (Brazil comes first) and their mark on Peruvian gastronomy is well established and today hui very appreciated. Lima’s fine dining restaurant, the Nikkei, Maido, ranked # 10 in the 2019 List of the 50 best restaurants in the world, the 2020 list has been postponed.
Wong Olano and Chang Ogata know and understand firsthand the importance of Nikkei. Both were born and raised in Lima, Peru, to parents of Asian descent. The couple’s fathers share Chinese ancestors, while Wong Olano’s mother is Peruvian and Chang Ogata’s mother is Japanese.
Wong Olano and Chang Ogata, both 36, were friends in high school, but their friendship didn’t become romantic until 2015. It was a long-distance relationship for a while, Wong Olano had been living in Long Beach ever since. 2014 as a subscriber. nurse. Once married in 2018, Chang Ogata joined her at Rose Park and he currently works as a chef at Kihon Sushi in Naples.
If Sushi Nikkei is the couple’s shared vision, Chang Ogata is in charge of its culinary design. His career as a Nikkei chef spans over a decade, with a passion instilled at a young age.
“My maternal grandmother regaled us with homemade Japanese food and my paternal grandfather had a good Peruvian seasoning flavor, but it was my mother who influenced [me] a lot. We always went out to eat and try new restaurants. I learned to taste and not be afraid to try new dishes, ”Chang Ogata said in a personal biography provided via email.
He received a formal education at Cordontec, a Le Cordon Bleu technology school in Lima. While studying there, he started working part-time as an Itame (Japanese Sushi Chef) at Edo Sushi Bar, a well-respected Nikkei sushi chain in Peru. For seven years he honed the Nikkei craft and in 2016 started his own restaurant Yume with his brother and two high school friends and in October he launched his second brick and mortar. Chang Ogata flies a lot these days.
Seeing the success of Nikkei restaurants in Los Angeles, but finding none in Long Beach, Chang Ogata and Wong Olano think Long Beach is ready for its own slice – or its own roll – whatever your preference.
A look at Sushi Nikkei’s menu (which is not complete and has yet to be released) reveals a tempting array of familiar Nikkei dishes. Tirados, a signature plate with slices of raw fish cut into sashimi, topped with a spicy sauce, come in five variations (yellowtail jalapeno, red shoyu, tako chalaco, acebichada tuna, and aji amarillo). Aji amarillo is made with sea bream fish drizzled with aji amarillo and olive oil.
Sushi, Nikkei style, also comes in five variations. Again we see aji amarillo peppers, in the ‘power of tuna’, but this time in the form of aioli, and with a parrillera sauce (similar to a chimichurri sauce) and topped with a Peruvian chalaquita, which is usually a mixture of red onions, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice.
But it is with Nikkei specialties that we see Chang Ogata’s playfulness. Four types of tacos – salmon, ebi, tuna cono and nori – garnished with avocado or avocado aioli, “Asian sauce”, “ninja sauce” and kiuri or Japanese cucumber.
In ‘conchas brasa’, grilled scallops are topped with butter, limo macha (a type of Mexican salsa), and quinoa pop, cradled on an open shell. The “conchas a la parmesana” are decidedly less spicy, but bright and topped with Parmesan, butter and lemon.
Without compromising on quality or flavor, Wong Olano said their restaurant will be very casual with prices reflecting this. Appetizers, such as steamed edamame, start at $ 4. Its spicier version, sautéed with garlic and togarashi, costs $ 6. Appetizers and specials are between $ 14 and $ 16, and Nikkei sushi an $ 8 main course.
Sushi Nikkei will be at 3819 Atlantic Ave. The owners plan to open in January 2022, hopefully early, but more likely later. Follow the new restaurant on Instagram for the latest updates.