Try­ing out In­done­sia’s new rooftop Nikkei restau­rants.

Ja­panese-Peru­vian cui­sine may have been late in com­ing to In­done­sia, but—to judge by the de­but of two stylish rooftop Nikkei restau­rants in Jakarta and Bali—it’s here to stay.

DestinAsian - - DEPARTMENTS - BY JAMES LOUIE

HENSHIN

Crown­ing the tallest build­ing in the coun­try, The Westin Jakarta has re­served its top three lev­els for Henshin, which made its de­but in July. Ac­cessed through a “se­cret door” in the ho­tel’s ground-level lobby, Henshin’s ex­press el­e­va­tors whisk pa­trons to the 67th-floor lounge, a dizzy­ing 270 me­ters above the clam­orous streets of the In­done­sian cap­i­tal. Here, panoramic views are best en­joyed from the out­door bar ter­race, whose in­ven­tive cock­tails in­clude the sweet Sakura Maru, named after the ship that brought the first group of Ja­panese im­mi­grants to Peru back in 1899 and thus laid the ground­work for the cen­tury-old fu­sion cui­sine known as Nikkei.

Up­stairs, you can’t go wrong with the Peru­vian-style sashimi known as tira­dito; try the oc­to­pus slices dressed in chimichurri— a pi­quant green mari­nade—with bell pep­per gelatin and drops of Peru­vian black olive sauce. Also rec­om­mended is the in­dul­gent Henshin Roll, con­tain­ing flame-seared foie gras, unagi, spicy crab­meat, and av­o­cado, dipped in sweet soy sauce and “Indo-nikkei” sam­bal.

Head chef Ha­jime Ka­suga, a third-gen­er­a­tion Ja­panese-Peru­vian from Lima, ex­plains the guid­ing phi­los­o­phy be­hind his cre­ations: “Nikkei food is about us­ing fresh in­gre­di­ents and look­ing after them, us­ing the best uten­sils to pre­serve that fresh­ness. It also re­quires a chef’s good hands. If all three el­e­ments are present, you don’t need any­thing else.” Ka­suga’s riff on ar­roz con

pato, a Peru­vian fa­vorite of duck with co­rian­der rice, is ideal for the In­done­sian palate. Cured duck breast im­parts the umami fla­vor so cru­cial to Nikkei cui­sine, and roasted ají

amar­illo chilies (a ubiq­ui­tous in­gre­di­ent in Peru) give the dish a fiery kick. Even bet­ter, the tooth­some slices of roast suck­ling pig served with tomato jelly and yuzu-scented salad are di­vine; pureed kabocha squash adds a char­ac­ter­is­tic Ja­panese sweet­ness, while small heaps of cha­laquita— com­posed of diced onion, chili, and co­rian­der—pro­vide a re­fresh­ing coun­ter­point that cuts through the fat­ti­ness of the meat ( 62/8780002-8008; hen­sh­in­jakarta.com).

ABOVE ELEVEN BALI

When Above Eleven opened in 2012 atop a sky­scraper in the hip Bangkok neigh­bor­hood of Sukhumvit, it was hailed as the first Peru­vian res­tau­rant in South­east Asia. Its re­cently launched Bali off­shoot is the first in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion, oc­cu­py­ing a 1,000-square-me­ter rooftop space at Jimba-

ran’s Sa­masta Life­style Vil­lage. As at the Bangkok flag­ship, Soho Hospi­tal­ity drew in­spi­ra­tion from the green­ery of New York’s Cen­tral Park. The re­sult? A chic yet whim­si­cal venue re­plete with dec­o­ra­tive, tree-like steel um­brel­las crowned by square glass canopies that glow by night, an ar­ti­fi­cial hedge maze at the en­trance, and an ar­bored walk­way lead­ing to a more in­ti­mate zone chris­tened Gramercy Park, where a round-topped bar in pol­ished con­crete is styled after New York food trucks and the walls sport ex­truded brick­work rem­i­nis­cent of Man­hat­tan’s 19th-cen­tury town­houses.

Sip­ping a pisco sour while watch­ing the sun­set over Jim­baran Bay makes a fit­ting pre­lude to Above Eleven’s con­tem­po­rary fare, over­seen by head chef Renzo Vac­chelli, who re­lo­cated from his na­tive Peru to helm kitchens in Ger­many and Lon­don. Don’t miss the tuna ce­biche, made with av­o­cado, onion rel­ish, and red chili sauce in a cit­rusy mari­nade. Another high­light is the snap­per tira­dito, a les­son in sub­tle com­plex­ity thanks to the light-handed ad­di­tion of ponzu sauce and truf­fle oil. Vac­chelli’s ver­sion of an­tic­u­cho skew­ers, a typ­i­cal Peru­vian street food, is equally in­spired. The mar­i­nated beef heart tastes far bet­ter than it sounds, but the star is the melt-in-the-mouth oc­to­pus served atop quenelles of herb-speck­led mashed potato.

So what sets this In­done­sian out­post apart from the Bangkok flag­ship? “The main dif­fer­ence is that in Bali we have the ad­van­tage of get­ting very fresh fish and seafood on a daily ba­sis,” Vac­chelli says. Be­ing in Jim­baran, the res­tau­rant pro­cures its marine bounty at the nearby fish mar­ket, while pro­duce is sup­plied by com­mu­nity farms around the is­land. “All the in­gre­di­ents we use at Above Eleven are lo­cally sourced with the ex­cep­tion of salmon, ten­der­loin, striploin, and duck leg.” Speak­ing of the lat­ter, the suc­cu­lent duck leg confit that graces Above Eleven’s ar­roz con pato is, when paired with the gen­er­ously por­tioned bed of co­rian­der rice, a meal in it­self. Be sure to leave room for dessert: the ex­cel­lent al­fa­jor com­prises crumbly corn­starch biscuits, vanilla ice cream, and dulce de leche that will have you lick­ing up ev­ery last drop ( 62/811-386-0402; aboveeleven.com).

Clock­wise from above: Chef Ha­jime Ka­suga; oc­to­pus tira­dito at Henshin; sun­down­ers at Above Eleven Bali. Op­po­site: Above Eleven’s mod­ern take on Peru­vian chichar­rón (braised and fried pork belly).

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