Nikkei Bar & Restaurant
The Tokyo Bird team is serving up a Japanese-Peruvian menu at its newest Surry Hills restaurant.
January 31, 2020
When Surry Hills mainstay Bodega closed its doors in July 2019, we were promised a new Japanese restaurant from the Tokyo Bird team would take its place. And now it's made good on that promise, opening Nikkei on Commonwealth Street last week.
But it's not a carbon copy of the team's much-loved yakitori and cocktail bar. Instead, this new diner has more of a focus on food, specialising in a particular style of Japanese-Peruvian cuisines called Nikkei. While this combination may be unheard of to some, the style of food actually developed over 100 years ago, when Peru's sizeable Japanese immigrant population began cooking local Peruvian dishes using their native cooking techniques and flavours.
The 55-seat venue features a bar, counter seating and a 12-seat communal table. Through the open kitchen, diners can catch Brazilian head chef Lucas Cerullo David (who comes from sister venue Osaka Trading Co.) and sushi chef Justin Kim at work on a seafood-heavy menu. It includes Peru's 'national' dish tiradito, a sliced sashimi-style ceviche. At Nikkei, you can choose between an octopus version — made with nori, pickled daikon and Peruvian chillies — or a mushroom medley with Jersualem artichokes and nori crackers.
Many of the dishes are served as either tapas or izakaya-style, so it's easy to share. Other specialties include hokkaido scallops with capsicum salsa and beef short ribs with miso garlic and Peruvian corn puree.
Behind the bar, expect a 40-strong wine list that focuses on coastal vineyards and a cocktail list which boasts distinct Peruvian flavours — including pisco, aniseed wine, chicha morada (Andean purple corn drink), oregano tea and quinoa milk. Lots of the hard-to-find ingredients on both the food and drinks menu have been directly sourced from Peru and Japan, too.
This is the fifth restaurant venture for owners Jason Ang, Tina Wing Kee and Christopher Ang — as well as Tokyo Bird, the trio's portfolio also includes other popular venues Osaka Trading Co., Bancho and the nearby Sando Bar.
Also involved in the venture is the dining group's venue manager Marco Oshiro Giron, whose Japanese-Peruvian heritage helped inspire and develop the Nikkei concept. He is joined by an impressive array of hospitality vets, including group sommelier Phil McElroy (The Source Restaurant at MONA, Firedoor, Sokyo), manager Reuvin Lim (Tayim, Tequila Mockingbird, Sake Double Bay, Cho Cho San) and head bartender Xander Ramirez (Bentley, Tayim).
Images: Bruno Stefani.