You know those friends of yours? They live miles apart and come from very different backgrounds but you know if they’d get on famously if they ever met. Their personalities would gel – ‘synergy’ is the term you’d use if you weren’t in possession of a soul.
Sometimes the same is true of food – not only individual ingredients but entire national cuisines. Take Nikkei, which introduces Japan to Peru and lets the pair bond over their mutual love of seafood.
Nikkei has been growing in popularity for years and for good reason: the combination of Japanese and Peruvian offers diners the best of two celebrated culinary cultures. (Try saying that after your second Saki.)
Chelsea’s Nakanojo is the latest Nikkei restaurant to arrive in the capital. Decorated with Japanese cherry blossom and a colourful Geisha mural, you’d recognise Nakanojo’s influences without even glancing at the menu. But you definitely should because it’s a very good menu indeed.
What to order?
Sharing plates: as many as you can stomach. Nikkei chicken kara-age tastes like the fried chicken of your dreams. Give thanks to God that your local Morley’s isn't this good – you'd be there nightly. Yellowtail nikkei sashimi is a must: like all good sashimi, it's as sharp as a katana and as refreshing as a fresh water swim. Plus it won’t fill you up too much for more courses.
Choose from an assortment of tacos: the wagyu carne asada is packed with meat and flavour (I mean, obviously: it's a wagyu taco). Sticking with the red stuff, the beef ribeye yakitori offers tiny meaty chunks on a wooden skewer. Yakitori is traditionally made with chicken but you won’t be complaining at the switch.
Sushi comes sizeable: Nakanojo dragon maki with panko shrimp and avocado is basically a meal in a wheel. A very delicious wheel, the soft creamy yield of the avocado combing brilliant with the muscular crunch of the shrimp. Treat yourself to one of the bespoke maki de la casa – such as black cod with jalapeno miso and crushed corn chips. You don’t get more Nikkei than that!
For the booze, try one of the boba (aka bubble) cocktails – Geishas Gambit (Havana 3yr, Lychee liqueur, lemon juice) or Pornstar Bobatini (Vodka, yuzu liquor, vanilla) both come with a Sake shot and would equally well at either end of the meal.
What’s the damage?
As always with multiple small plates, there’s the risk of the bill swelling without you really noticing. “Oh go on, let’s try the black cod den miso” and boom, another £28 is racked up.
In fairness, the black cod is a bit of an anomaly, with most of the plates hovering either side of £15. You’ll want five or six minimum, though.
The boba cocktails are all £15 and wine bottles start from £32. Basically, two people will be lucky to escape with less than three figures but you shouldn’t go much over. Considering you’re dining on King’s Road that ain’t bad going.
Anything else to note?
Paul, the general manager, is charm personified and smarter than you. He's 27, speaks seven languages and studied gene modification.
View on Instagram
356-360 King’s Road, London, SW3 5UZ; Nakanojo