ONE FINE AFTERNOON in August, Prestige is led to a “secret door” at The Westin Jakarta on Jl. H. R. Rasuna Said. The door is opened to reveal a dark hallway, adorned at the end with the letter H in green neon lights. We take a right turn to find an elevator that brings us to the hotel’s top two floors. Here is Henshin, the highest fine-dining restaurant and bar in Jakarta. It serves Japanese-Peruvian (Nikkei) cuisine, which is very rare in the city’s dining scene.
“The original meaning of Nikkei is a Japanese who lives outside the country,” says the 44-year old Executive Chef, Hajime Kasuga. “But as time has gone by, the term has been applied not just to people but to the food that Japanese emigrants cooked. This cuisine has its origins in the late 19th century, when thousands of Japanese workers began emigrating to Peru. They grew their own food and combined Japanese and Peruvian techniques. Nikkei cuisine eventually became an important part of Peruvian gastronomy.”
Chef Kasuga is a Nikkei himself, a thirdgeneration citizen of Peru. He started his culinary career in 1995, as a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Foundation. Besides working as a chef, he serves as an international adviser to restaurants that serve Nikkei cuisine. A restaurant he opened in 2005, Hanzo, was named Best Japanese Restaurant in 2008 and 2009 in the Summun Guide in Peru.
Henshin is a two-storey venue, with the bar on the 67th floor and the dining area on the 68th. On the 67th level, diners are welcomed by a lively ambiance, as it is decorated with colourful tiles with Japanese traditional patterns and natural stones inspired by the Machu Picchu Inca site. The bar can accommodate up to 90 people, with alfresco and lounge areas where diners can enjoy breathtaking views of Jakarta’s skyline. The fine-dining venue has hot and cold kitchens. There are two private rooms, one accommodating 20 guests and the other 12. Both levels boast floor-to-ceiling windows.
Henshin is open for dinner each evening from 6 pm. While enjoying the night view, diners can sip Sakura Maru (Rp 155,000) or Issei (Rp 155,000). The former is a ginbased drink infused with geisha blossom tea, yuzu juice, rose syrup and parfait amout bitters. Its name is inspired by a famous ship that carried Japanese families from Yokohama to Peru. Issei is a vodka drink mixed with sake, Thai basil, yuzu juice and vanilla syrup. Issei was the name given to the first generation of emigrants from Japan.
For starters, Chef Kasuga and his team serve the quintessential Nikkei dish of cebiches (or ceviche) clasico (Rp 140,000), which is sea bass marinated in tiger’s milk. “Tiger’s milk is a mix of lemon juice, lime, garlic, coriander and celery. The result is a white liquid similar to milk colour. We called it tiger’s milk because people feel stronger after they drink it,” explains the chef.
The main courses include pulpo Henshin (Rp 320,000), a low-temperature dish of cooked octopus served with potato panca sauce. For a unique flavour, there
is lomo azul (Rp 360,000), which consists of beef tenderloin rubbed with coffee and spice, and topped with teriyaki sauce and blue cheese.
Looking for sushi? Henshin rolls (Rp 240,000) could be an option. The choices at Henshin include unagi, flame-seared foie gras, fried shrimp, spicy lump crab and avocado. Henshin The Westin Jakarta Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav.C-22 A, Jakarta Tel: +62 878 0002 8008 Bar: 5pm – 1am (Friday & Saturday until 2am) Restaurant: 6pm – 11pm (Friday & Saturday until 12am)