Review: A fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavours at Nikkei

Fast facts 

Restaurant name: Nikkei

Address: 87 Bree Street, Cape Town

Phone number: 021 109 0081

Opening times: Monday to Sunday 12noon to 10.30pm

Average price: Multi-course omakase from R599 per person (for two), set bento box R419; various à la carte from R120 to R499

Corkage fee: R100 per bottle, only one bottle per four diners

Parking situation: Street or paid nearby on Heritage Square

Food type: Japanese-Peruvian

Best for

A sizzling addition to the Cape Town restaurant scene, Nikkei is equally comfortable for casual gal gatherings, vibey sushi and sake Sundays with a DJ laying down the soundtrack, and full-on ballgown glam to get a night on the town off to a fine start.


The food is a blend of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines, sometimes quite separate, others cosying up side by side. At first, you might wonder how this comes to be, but there are a couple of centuries of history to support it. The arrival of a Peruvian ship at Yokohama’s port awoke a unique pairing of Japanese meticulous attention to detail and flavour with the vibrancy and spark of Peruvian cuisine.


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The menu is by globally renowned chef Rikku Ó’Donnchü and group executive chef Justin Barker (that group including four other restaurants within two blocks: Hacienda, Scala, Burger & Lobster and Iron Steak).

Go for the omakase set menus to take the decision-making out of the process, but you can’t go wrong with ordering multiple dishes to share (or not, because some you’ll want to keep to yourself). Vegetarians and vegans will do quite all right. There’s something just not quite right about vegetarian sushi though, but that notion will be dispelled with the truffle maki. Outrageous. Apparently the fried tofu with avocado, smoked pepper and truffle honey is also excellent. These signature sushi offerings are balanced by the traditional sashimi and nigiri that you can have anywhere; rather step out the comfort zone and try something different – you won’t be sorry, and we’ve been desperate for creative sushi for years now.


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Appetisers, small plates, crudo, robatayaki… there are no main courses as such so go wild with ordering. The seared sesame tuna with guacamole, smoked emulsion, lime and jalapeño ponzu is a winner, and the shio koji lamb chops basted with black garlic honey on their own little charcoal grill are sticky and stunning and surprisingly affordable.

Try to keep space for dessert, like the enticingly named White Lotus (strawberry mousse, tropical sours, molecular sponge), miso caramel chocolate fondant with sesame ice cream, or dreamy matcha cheesecake. Complimentary surprise nibbles bracket each end of your meal…


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There are many drinks options. Piso cocktails (some available non-alcoholic) and sake cocktails represent the two countries, plus house cocktails and house classics. Server Evans Marovatsanga made it clear the Mr Hinohara (Pisco El Gobernador, cacao, Campari and Martini Rosso) is a strong drink and he is not wrong. It looks worryingly small but this riff on a negroni is designed to be sipped slowly or at your own peril. The Tokyo Skyline is described as “the epitome of luxury” and it’s very pretty to look at too (made with Île Four Junmai Daiginjo sake, Grey Goose Vodka, vanilla, passion fruit, Martini Prosecco and lime). Add to this a huge range of Japanese spirits and beers, local spirits, red, white and pink wines, bubblies, beers and ciders; you’re not going to be thirsty for long.


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Service is smooth from beginning to end. The online booking system is painless and efficient requiring no actual human contact.  The wait staff are dressed in black and bright pink, a pleasing counterpoint to the décor (see below). They introduce themselves when they come to the table, and are well equipped to offer advice on the menu, along with recommendations; the range of options requires this. Management make a couple of turns past the table to check everything is going swimmingly.


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Occupying a space that was most recently a theatre, Nikkei has a new look and colour palette but has lost none of the drama of the triple-volume room. Given that, it would be so easy for it to feel cavernous, but the muted earthy shades of greens and browns, long-hanging lights to ‘lower’ the ceiling, lots of foliage, and semi-circular booths in the centre all combine to pull you into an intimate embrace. High windows bring in natural light during the day but they’re not there for the view; the interior will give you plenty to look at. It is the height of sophistication without being intimidating.


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Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here

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