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Andrés Hamamoto: Nikkei cooking over hot coals


Many descendants of Japanese grew up in Peru with a mixture of cuisines at home: the Creole native to the country and the Japanese that their ancestors shared without making any further distinction between the origins of both. Nikkei in gastronomy is just that: the mixture of both cultures in a diet that has a new personality, with ingredients from both sides of the Pacific.

Andrés Hamamoto studied gastronomy at USIL and very soon embarked on the project of making a Nikkei chicken shop. (Credit: Javier García Wong Kit)

Andrés Hamamoto is 29 years old and is a baseball fan who grew up in family businesses dedicated to food, especially in Peruvian cuisine restaurants. But there was one that his father, José, took on more than 25 years ago and that became part of the challenge that he would take on professionally: the Welkin chicken shop, with stores in the center of Lima and the district of Barranco. The second location was chosen for an experiment where Andrés would introduce part of the family essence.

“I studied cooking at the San Ignacio de Loyola University and soon there was the opportunity to change the concept of pollería to give it a Nikkei touch,” says Andrés, who chose the family name for the Barranco establishment for the popular pollería (in Lima, grilled chicken is a cultural icon, being the most consumed dish) and he gave it a second last name that summarizes his culinary proposal very well: grilled and Nikkei dishes.

Hamamoto – Brasas y Platos Nikkei is a huarique (hidden restaurant but highly appreciated by connoisseurs) in the most bohemian district of Lima, where Andrés lives, who shares his time between the embers of his charcoal oven and baseball, a sport he practices. since I was a child, when I studied at La Unión school. He is currently a pitcher for the Peruvian national team 1 , with which he participates in continental tournaments. “The level of Peru has improved a lot in baseball but it is still not very popular.”

Andrés Hamamoto is a professional and Peruvian baseball player. (Credit: Andrés Hamamoto)

Candle and seasoning

“In cooking schools you learn a lot about techniques but you have to put creativity into the selection and mixing of ingredients,” says Andrés, who has been cooking since he was a child (“even if it's a fried egg”). That curiosity has been transferred to grilled chicken, an emblematic dish that has a Creole dressing (a mixture of various spices in which the bird is marinated, including some condiments typical of Peruvian cuisine, such as huacatay, sillao and ají panca). .

“You can have the recipe but it won't turn out the same,” says Andrés, who included a little soy and miso in the dressing for his grilled chicken, which gives it a special aroma that has attracted the attention of neighbors, tourists and foodies from Lima, considered the gastronomic capital of Latin America due to its dominant presence on the lists of the best restaurants in the region.

The Nikkei grilled chicken has a Creole dressing with miso and soy that give it a special aroma. (Credit: Hamamoto - Brasa Nikkei)

To accompany this dish you can choose between a salad or a bolihamas, a crunchy dough filled with grilled chicken with acebichada sauce, similar to mayonnaise but with a greater presence of lemon; a recipe that became popular in a Japanese restaurant in Lima where it was added to the makis. In Hamamoto there are also other Nikkei dishes, such as gyozas , makis , ramen and yakimeshi but always with Andrés' own seasoning.

Nikkei inspiration

Among the hot dishes that attract attention at Hamamoto, decorated with paper lanterns and murals that pay homage to Japan's rising sun, is lomo saltado, a classic of Chinese-influenced Peruvian cuisine (a dish made in a wok and with a touch of sillao) which is served here with soy sauce and a touch of sake to flambé. There are also teriyaki wings, potatoes in tonkatsu and jalapeño sauce with gratin cheddar cheese, and prawn yakimeshi .

The Hamamoto - Brasa y Platos Nikkei location is in Barranco and its design is a tribute to the Japanese rising sun. (Credit: Javier García Wong Kit)

“In addition to the sakeado loin, a flagship dish of our establishment is the Godzilla ,” says Andrés, who was inspired by the creation called “Mounstrito”, a combination of two Peruvian dishes, grilled chicken and chaufa rice of Chinese origin, to make this dish in which he uses his yakimeshi rice. “Many come out of curiosity and on weekends the crowd increases because Barranco is a district that receives a lot of people.”

Like many places in the area, Hamamoto is open until ten at night on weekdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, when many young people arrive attracted by the trendy clubs, bars and restaurants. For them, Andrés has Japanese and Peruvian craft beer, as well as cocktails made with pisco, the Peruvian distillate with which the country's emblematic drinks are made.

“I'm more into sashimi than ceviche,” says Andrés, who feels that Japanese inspiration can encompass endless dishes. As in very few chicken shops in Peru, here there are dishes for veggies (the chicken is replaced with eggplants coated in panko) and smoked avocado with grilled chicken and sour cream; and a chocolate cake with matcha chantilly. Nikkei everywhere.

Cuisine and philosophy

Andrés says that he is injured but that he wants to return to the fields very soon; that his father hardly visits the new location because he remains in the care of the first one who maintains the Welkin's identity; that her sister Sofía is the administrator here and that she is also in charge of the image because she is a professional photographer; that many friends from other sushi bars in Lima helped him create the menu and that he has a philosophy that helps him cook.

"I don't believe in secret recipes, cooking is for sharing and the most important thing is the experience that the client gets, everything is based on what they want, not on what you want to give them." In Hamamoto there are “all you can eat” promotions, raffles for those who follow them on their social networks and days with unlimited soda refills, ideas that have been widely used in sushi bars in Lima and other fast food restaurants.

As an athlete, he never stops talking about a healthy diet, a trend that is also very present in Lima restaurants, adding that grilled chicken is a healthy dish if accompanied with a salad. “When cooked over the fire, the fat drips and the skin seals the meat. It is healthier than fried chicken, which is dipped in oil. In addition, we use sesame oil, which helps reduce saturated fats,” he comments.

If everything goes well, as it has been doing since the restaurant changed its name at the beginning of the year, he hopes the brand will continue to grow. “There are chicken shops in Lima that, due to the capacity of their ovens, can make up to 300 chickens at maximum production. We can reach 100 chickens, but we are selling between 30 and 50 a day,” says Andrés with a baseball cap and the symbol of the embers of the most peculiar Nikkei restaurant with the most common dish in Peru.


1. Athlete Profile: HAMAMOTO Andrés

© 2019 Javier García Wong-Kit

Andrés Hamamoto baseball cooking cuisine food fusion cuisine Hawaii Japanese Americans Nikkei Peru United States youth
About this series

Nikkei gastronomy in Peru has a long tradition that young chefs have been investigating. In this series we will learn about the contribution of Nikkeis who are renovating a Peruvian and Japanese cuisine.

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About the Author

Javier García Wong-Kit is a journalist, professor, and director of Otros Tiempos magazine. Author of Tentaciones narrativas (Redactum, 2014) and De mis cuarenta (ebook, 2021), he writes for Kaikan, the magazine of the Japanese Peruvian Association.

Updated April 2022

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