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Nikkei Experiments: Opposites Attract

Anna Azarova
16 December 2017

You may wonder what Japan and Peru, separated by vast stretches of open ocean, have in common. The answer comes as a surprise. It is cuisine known as Nikkei, which is making its mark on the world.
Nikkei is a term referring to Japanese people living outside of the country and is extended to include a fusion of traditional Japanese fish/seafood recipes and key Peruvian ingredients – potatoes and corn. Far from a vulgar mash up, an unexpected but refined pairing blends Japan’s freshness with Peru’s spicy flavours to remarkable effect.

The Code of Ronin
It is my first such culinary experience, and together with TUCC (The Ukrainian Connoisseur Club) we are to explore the innovative cuisine offered by Ronin, Ukraine’s first establishment serving Peruvian-Japanese delicacies. It occupies the impressive building of Tokyo, a former legendary Japanese restaurant, located near the Kyiv Zoo. The two-storey property boasts several halls and four summer terraces capable of accommodating up to 450 guests.

A minimalist interior with clear lines keeps the design simple, modern, and practical. Nothing pompous, nothing pretentious. The light colours and openness create a greater sense of space. High ceilings, long wooden tables, and sofas made of leather make one feel immediately comfortable.
The restaurant has six aquariums with live oysters and lobsters, a fish display freezer, a dry-aged beef chamber, open kitchen, contact bar, and teppan grills offering a visual and gastronomic treat. The overall impression is enhanced by minor yet crucial features: decorative vases, green plants, big bright paintings on the walls, and rainbow coloured plates.

 Japanese-Peruvian or Peruvian-Japanese?
Yellowfin Tuna Tiradito starts the party off.  It is a dish of raw fish, thinly sliced (similar to carpaccio), delicately seasoned and artfully decorated with ponzu jelly, truffle salsa, and microgreen. The tuna has a perfect texture and neutral flavour, emphasised with a soft bitterness of the leche de tigre sauce. It is ideally complemented by Chivite Las Fincas Rosado – a rosé wine with a nice yellowish pink hue produced by the oldest winery in Navarra, Spain.
Nikkei Causas with Scallops is next on the list.  The waiter brings in an artistic palette of mashed pink sweet potatoes and Peruvian-style fried vegetables – blue cabbage, cherry tomatoes, kumquat, baby corn, pea buds, and wok-fried spinach. It is crowned with seared scallops dressed with teriyaki sauce. I take a sip of the Yarden Katzrin Chardonnay, which is an impeccable match for the dish. The primary label of Israeli’s Golan Heights Winery, Yarden is softly sweet but not aggressive, and tastes rich, with notes of ripe yellow fruits, corn, caramel and vanilla.

I still have an appetite for more and Filet Mignon arrives at the table just in time. It is a robata grill rump steak cooked to a medium-rare and set on creamy potato puree, with colourful vegetables and yuzu truffle sauce. Succulent, tender, and juicy – just as it should be – the meat melts in the mouth and calls for a glass of good old red wine, like Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere (Chile). The well-bodied ‘nectar’ has a bouquet with tones of black berries, spices, and oak vanilla.
I do not have a sweet tooth, but can’t resist the temptation of savouring a light classical Japanese dessert – Mochi. This is a delightfully chewy, mellow ball of gluttonous rice dough, which in my case has white chocolate with mango inside. The frozen treat goes along with Shiraume Ginjo Umeshu, a gorgeous liquor with a strong nutty flavour, made by steeping Wakayama plum in the finest Japanese premium rice Saket Ginzio.

Surprisingly, I do not feel full after finishing all four courses, though definitely nourished. My first Nikkei experience has really been worth it and inspires me to investigate Japanese-Peruvian or Peruvian-Japanese masterpieces further.

P.S. When in Ronin, be sure to consult sommelier Yuriy, who will tell you everything about Nikkei cuisine and help select the best drinks to pair your meal.

 

Edible Inventory
Yellowfin tuna tiradito                                                                                                  219 UAH
Nikkei Causas with scallops                                                                                        349 UAH
Filet mignon (250 g)                                                                                                     359 UAH
Mochi                                                                                                                                 69 UAH
Chivite Las Fincas Rosado                                                                (150ml)            150 UAH
Golan Heights Winery Yarden Katzrin Chardonnay 2015         (150ml)           260 UAH
Errazuriz Max Reserva Carmenere 2009                                      (150ml)           220 UAH
Akashi-Tai Shiraume Ginjo Umeshu                                              (50ml)               95 UAH
TOTAL (for one person)                                                                                           1 721 UAH

Ronin
(Zoolohichna 10)
FB RONIN.Kyiv
borisov.com.ua/uk/ronin
+ 38 068 713 1414
11.00 – 23.00
Reservations are a good idea

Make sure you try…
Ceviche
Grilled seafood platter
Ribeye Wagyu steak
Coconut Panna cotta with sesame paste and mango gel

The What’s On Checklist
English Menu                              Yes
English-speaking staff            Yes
Wi-Fi                                              Yes
Price                                               $$$
WO Rating                                   5 Star

 

Photos by Olya Sosiura

 

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