The relatively young culinary tradition called Nikkei is having its moment in the spotlight. Maido — a Japanese and Peruvian restaurant in Lima, Peru led by Nikkei advocate chef Mitsuharu Tsumura — has been named the best restaurant in Latin America by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants organization.
Nikkei cuisine was born after Japanese immigrants came to Peru in the late 1800s, with some of them eventually opened restaurants. They cooked Peruvian food for the locals, but Japanese technique began to seep into their cooking. The cuisine advanced further when more Japanese immigrants arrived in Peru. However, when they arrived they wanted food from their homeland, but were forced to use Peruvian ingredients. The result was a cuisine that featured potatoes, yellow pepper, wasabi, miso, and ginger, built upon a base of lime with chili and soy sauce. “It’s a mixture of citrus, spice, and soy," Tsumura says.
At Maido, Tsumura serves a changing 13-course menu that may include ceviche, sushi, pork belly, and octopus. There’s also a menu devoted to sushi as well.
The restaurant displaces the reigning champ, Central, which is also in Lima, and fell to No. 2 on the list ahead of D.O.M. of Sao Paolo, Brazil at No. 3, Pujol in Mexico City, and Boragó in Santiago, Chile.