Sushi Nikkei Peruvian-Japanese restaurant is a long beach sensation in the making

Opening a restaurant was never something that Peruvian-born Daiwa Wong, a Long Beach local, would have imagined. Yet here she is, weeks away from opening Sushi Nikkei in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach with her best friend turned husband, now business partner, Eduardo Chang. The opening is part love story, part hustle, and it has the potential to upend Long Beach’s dining scene. The area has always had a proud (and growing) culinary tradition of its own, but never had a pair like Wong and Chang.

“Long Beach has been my home since 2014, Eduardo has been my home since he joined me in 2018,” says Wong affectionately. “This is our community, and we want to invest in it rather than in another city.”

The opening of Sushi Nikkei for the first time marks a Peruvian chef building a restaurant around Nikkei Kitchen in Long Beach. Nikkei cuisine, which is derived from the Japanese word “nikijin” which translates to Japanese immigrants and their descendants on a large scale, originated more than a century after Japanese immigration through Latin America. Today, Nikki’s cuisine is closely associated with the South American country of Peru. Nikkei cuisine uses Peruvian ingredients—aji amarillo peppers, for example, as well as sea bream and other tropical fish—and the influence of Japan in both its sources and techniques to create a cuisine unique to the country’s Nikkei culture. And now that culture is coming to Long Beach in a big way.

If Wong is the architect of the community’s dream that became Sushi Nikai, it is Chang who builds the foundation of the restaurant’s cooking. A graduate of the Cordontic Culinary School of Peru, Chang is a decorated and celebrated Peruvian chef, before spending years developing his reputation as an Itama sushi chef. His first big break came at Edo Sushi Bar, before he expanded to his own restaurant Yume, which he jointly owns with his brother and high school friends in Lima, Peru. Together, the group garnered a strong local following, even expanding to a second location in October 2021.

Crispy tuna taco.

Chang is also a member of “Generacion con Causa,” a movement of more than 50 Peruvian chefs who have publicly committed to preserving the foundations of Peruvian gastronomy. Generacion con Causa is led by Gaston Acurio, chef and ambassador of Peruvian cuisine who has helped grow Peru’s culinary gains globally; and Mitsuhara Tsumura, chef at Nikkei Maido in Lima, which ranks seventh in the world’s 50 best restaurants. Being a member of Generacion con Causa is as much an honor for Chang as it is a mandate, purposefully driven to bring more eyes to Nikkei and Peruvian cuisine in general around the world.

Sushi Nikkei is Chang’s’ first American restaurant. The menu features tiradito fish, which is raw fish sliced ​​in Japanese sashimi style and served with hot sauce just before coating. The Japanese tempura frying technique is used to make tacos and sushi rolls as well, and is an ode to both Japan and Peru as well as the strong Mexican and Japanese influence of Southern California. Chang also incorporates Peruvian ingredients such as quinoa in ají sushi and grilled scallops (or conchas brasa) on the sushi nikkei menu, while the final dish is dipped in limo macha, a thick sauce of Veracruz.

The restaurant’s larger entrees include traditional Peruvian chef choices (Chinese cuisine in Peru) as well as staples familiar to many diners such as lomo saltado, a stir-fry of beef tenderloin, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and rice. Fried whole bream with patayaki (a Japanese sauce with butter, garlic, and a togarashi seasoning mix), fresh cilantro and lemon, is served to share between groups. It’s all part of Sushi Nikkei’s sprawling plan to bring people together, propelling Nikkei cuisine forward not just in greater Los Angeles—where the kitchen has been found for years—but in Long Beach specifically.

“Long Beach is our family home, and we are excited for people in the community to learn about our shared heritage of dishes coming out of the kitchen at Sushi Nikai,” says Wong.

Sushi Nikki It opened January 28 and is located at 3819 Atlantic Ave. , Long Beach, CA 90807, with dinner hours kept from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations suggested.

3819 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, CA 90807

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