We know we’re not the only ones who are busting to try the much-anticipated opening of Nikkei restaurant, INKA. Luckily, we managed to get a sneak peek preview at what delicious dishes they have install for diners.
We’ve all seen the teaser photos on their Instagram of the vibrant and intricate designs, showing off their incredible dining area, bar and of course that beautiful coloured staircase leading to the upstairs space. But we know we aren’t the only ones checking their website to find the ‘menu’ tab.
Drawing on inspiration from the bright colours, patterns and sculptures from traditional Peruvian culture, the inviting and vibrant atmosphere transports diners to another space where the authentic interior is matched with exceptional food and wine.
If you are new to Nikkei cuisine, in essence it is Peruvian food made with Japanese techniques. Seeing the success of Nikkei around the world and the love of multicultural foods by local Canberran’s, owners of INKA saw no better place to try Nikkei properly and traditionally for the first time in Australia. The team are passionate about introducing Canberra to the flavours of Peru which are often overlooked by Japanese cuisine at other Nikkei restaurants.
“We want to show off Peruvian flavours, that sometimes gets missed out, Nikkei needs to be an even split overwise it’s really not true, this is what makes INKA special,” says Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, Ashley Smith.
Executive Chef, Michael Muir and his talented team took us through some of their favourite dishes that truly show off the special flavours of Peru with of course the artful techniques of Japan.
First up, we started with a scallop ceviche with a traditional ‘tigers’ milk’ sauce. Chef Muir says that the menu focuses heavily on fresh, raw seafood, boasting five different ceviche dishes. Through this dish we see the seafood influence of Japan through the scallop paired with the traditional chili flavours of Peru that are used for taste rather than spice.
Next, we tried the Australian scampi nigiri with chimichurri and egg yolk cream. We were blown away with the freshness of this dish, it was beautifully light and creamy.
Then, we tried a trio of char-grilled vegetable skewers with a light spice Peruvian Anticucho sauce. Using a Rabata grill, they served Shishito peppers, eggplant with a tare Japanese glaze and shitake mushrooms. We never thought vegetables could taste so good.
Lastly, a dessert you won’t turn away from even after you’re full, chocolate and chili fondant with pisco and guava sorbet and puffed quinoa. As you take your first gooey bite, tastes flavours of the rich chocolate, then as you end your mouthful feel a bite of chili that is then cleansed with the tangy sorbet.
And what would a night out be without a few drinks? Curating an artful cocktail menu, bartender, Nick Nile shared a few of his favourites that reflect Nikkei.
Shinsen’na Nashi (meaning fresh pear in Japanese) is a combination of nashi pear juice, Pomme VertE, mango infused Pisco and Moscato. Gachi, made with Fino Sherry, yuzu, fennel syrup and soda. And his personal favourite, Profé made with Chrivas 12yr, Benedictine, Togarashi and Absinthe.
Joining Nick on the drinks list, is advanced Sommelier, Ashley. Supporting not only the Canberra district but also small growers in Australia and around the world, the wine list will show off the little guys and the amazing wine they produce. Serving a large range of wine by the glass, Ashley invites diners to experiment with something new. And of course, she will be there to guide you through and help pair your glass with the food.
Opening March 11, INKA will be taking walk-ins only for their first few days. Head in and try these beautiful dishes for yourself.