Some time ago, a few foodie friends and I got together for a late lunch at Nikkei, a Japanese-Peruvian bar / restaurant along Rada St. in Legaspi Village in Makati.
Parking is always a concern when going to Makati, so I just parked at Greenbelt 5 to save myself any parking problems, and just walked the 3 blocks to Nikkei. If you park in the street, you only have 3 hours or your car will probably get towed! This is Makati, where parking is not user-friendly. The others in our group who drove were watching the clock and worried about going over their 3-hour limit. It’s so not a good way to enjoy lunch.
Nikkei is located on the ground floor of the Frabelle Business Center, you can’t miss it. It’s just beside Wildflour. The name is kind of weird for me to say, because every time I say Nikkei, I always want to say “index” and it’s kind of weird for me to just say Nikkei without “index” or “stock market index” at the end. Nikkei is such a stock market word that I’m having a hard time associating it with a restaurant.
However, the good food and relatively affordable pricing for a Makati venue is reforging my associations with the word Nikkei.
Upon walking in, the place was packed for lunch. When Japanese expats and other foreigners look like regulars, the place must be good! The decor is simple and “no-frills”, with plain concrete walls warmed by the wooden furniture and the lighting.
Here are pictures of the restaurant after the lunch crowd has left:
The bar is on the left side:
I think our friend C was determined to get us drunk! We were able to try 6 cocktails! Don’t worry, I walked around Greenbelt and did some window shopping to make sure I was sober before driving.
The cocktails were unique – not the usual, generic ones you’d find in other bars. In no particular order:
Sake Sangria 295
Lychee syrup, orange juice, ginger syrup, cachaca, sake – this was one of my favorites that day. Cool and refreshing.
Lime, mint, nori, ginger, cachaca – this is like a mojito, but with a Japanese twist! The ginger adds a soft, spicy kick.
Spicy Sake Martini 250
Vodka, Lemon Juice, Sake, Wasabi Paste
Coco Chee 295
Vodka Absolute, Sake, Josen Nihonsakari, coconut milk, passion fruit juice, lychee juice, single syrup – nice and tropical
Ruby Sake Soda 250
Gin, grapefruit, lemongrass, ginger, soda water
Dragon fruit rum, pomegranate juice, lychee syrup, sweet heat syrup, soda water – this was another favorite!
In between the cocktails, we were served several appetizers:
Fish Causa – P145
Peruvian Soft Mashed Potato Bites Topped with your choice of Kobe, Ebi, Tako, Fish, Salmon. We were served the Fish Causa. It is white fish marinated in soy sauce, garnished with cilantro emulsion and guacamole. These are delicious – the mashed potatoes have some citrus mixed in, makes it taste fresher. I recommend this, it’s like getting an Iron Chef-level appetizer but the whole plate is only P145!
Ceviche Roll – 5 pcs P200 / 10 pcs P395
White fish, cucumber, onion leeks, cilantro, ceviche sauce, fresh chili (spicy). So simple, so good. Fresh and light.
Tako confitado – P260
Octopus in panka-miso sauce. Very popular! It’s like octopus barbecue – the octopus pieces are chewy but not tough. The panko-miso sauce goes with the octopus so well. A bit pricey for 2 short sticks, but you got to try it once!
Yellow Pepper Ceviche – P375
White fish, red onions, yellow pepper sauce, red chili, cilantro, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sweet potato strings. Another beautiful but also very delicious dish that was wiped out in a few minutes! It’s a nice symphony of flavors, playing with South American and Asian ingredients – there’s the umami from the fish, the potatoes, and the yellow peppers, onions, chilies, cilantro and sesame provide contrasting spice and mellowness.
Kocha Tiraditos (Sashimi Peruvian Style) – P175
Choice of white fish, salmon, octopus or tuna with salad sauce and crispy tea. We were served the Kocha Tiraditos, the White Fish. The thinly-sliced fish makes it easier for it to absorb the flavors of the sauce that is something like a lighter tonkatsu sauce.
Coco Tiraditos (Sashimi Peruvian Style) – P150
Choice of white fish, salmon, octopus or tuna with salad sauce, coconut milk, chives, togarashi. We were served the Kocha Tiraditos, the Salmon. Writing this post is making me so hungry! This dish is the best! The best salmon sashimi-type dish I have had in probably ever. All the flavors go very well together with the thinly-sliced salmon. Salmon lovers will love this! I will order a dish of this all for myself when I come back! I will not share!!! since it’s only P150, I might even order 2 just for me…
For the main dishes, we had the Mixed Jalea (P680) – battered and fried Mackerel, Octopus, Prawns, Red Onion, Sweet Potato Strings, Ceviche sauce. Best sprinkled with some lemon juice!
We also tried one of the lunch sets, Buta no Kakuni Chahan (680) which has Pork Belly, Katsuboshi, Ponzu, Leeks, and Togarashi. It is served with soup, vegetables, and ice cream. This was also delicious, the pork belly was tender and flavorful.
For dessert, we had the Tres Leches (P280) – a sponge cake soaked in custard cream. The pillowy sponge cake soaked in the sweet cream. Yummy! Although I think the P280 price is a bit high since it seems like a simple dessert…
HAPPY HOUR Promo – 20% OFF ALL FOOD & DRINKS!
They have an ongoing Happy Hour promo from 3pm – 6pm, where you get 20% OFF on all food & drinks! Okay, I need to make a plan to go back in the afternoon!
Everything we had was great! It’s very rare for me to find a restaurant where every dish delivered, but every dish Nikkei served us was outstanding!
While the pricing of their mains is what you would expect for a Makati restaurant of this level, they do have some very affordable appetizers such as the Fish Causa, and the Peruvian-style Sashimis. If I wasn’t starving, I would be quite happy with several orders of the different appetizers for lunch! They are amazing.
Their offerings are unique fusions of Japanese and Peruvian flavors, combined to make the food sing. I imagine if I had the ability to hear flavors singing while tasting Nikkei’s dishes, I probably would have.
The flavors are light, fresh, distinct, and layered. There’s nothing bland here. At the same time, the flavors are just perfect and not overpowering. I could also see the attention to detail they give to each dish. I have no problem recommending this restaurant to the most snobbish foodies I know, because I’m sure that they’ll love the food!
The only “con” for the restaurant is that Nikkei doesn’t have its own restroom. You have to go out of the restaurant and use the restroom of the Frabelle building – this is the main building where Nikkei is located.
Unit GO3, Frabelle Business Center, 111 Rada Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City
Contact: 0927 2730114
Hours: 11 AM – 10 PM
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