Discover Nikkei

Tomoya Fusion Nikkei: the first izakaya in Peru

Kenny Kuahara is the chef at Tomoya's Miraflores location that doubles as an izakaya. Credit: Tomoya Nikkei Fusion.

Every cuisine is a mixture of techniques, inputs and cultures in which the hand of its creators can be seen. The Japanese Peruvian, or nikkei, has undergone many changes since it emerged from restaurants such as Matsuei, by Nobu Matsuhisa, Toshiro's, by Toshiro Konishi, Hanzo, by Hajime Kasuga, Edo, by the Matsufuji family, Ichiban, by Hiro Nakagawa, or Maido by Mitsuharu Tsumura. Miguel Oshiro, creator of Tomoya Fusión Nikkei, worked on these last three, who has started a new culinary adventure in 2022.

In February 2020, this Nikkei chef who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu had already opened his first location, with his partner Miguel Kohama, in the San Miguel district. Tomoya Fusion Nikkei is a restaurant with an extensive menu that includes makis, poke bowls, gyozasm baos and ramen. Unfortunately, shortly after opening the pandemic began, with a quarantine that prevented its operation.

“We reopened almost six months later, only for delivery, before we couldn't do anything, we had to close the company or commit and continue. So we continued, short-staffed, and stayed home. Economically it was very hard, but we managed to resist,” says Miguel, who adds that in those years he was surprised by the large number of people willing to help his venture even without knowing exactly what they offered. “I liked that a lot, they wanted to support the small business.”

Tomoya Fusion Nikkei is the first izakaya, or Japanese tavern, in Peru. Credit: Tomoya Nikkei Fusion.

Nikkei cuisine

Miguel says that he only learned about Nikkei cuisine when he came to the Ichiban restaurant to wash dishes. “It was very traditional, 90% of Japanese customers. I was there for a couple of years and then I went to the United States for a year. When I returned I went to Edo Sushi Bar, with Iván Matsufuji.” After that experience, Miguel was in Chile, working in fusion cuisine, and then returned to Peru, where he continued learning in Nikkei restaurants.

“After working in restaurants and a chain in Chile, I was a little clearer about where I was going and what I wanted,” says Miguel, who opened Tomoya, whose name comes from tomoe, that abstract figure so used in Japanese symbology. Its logo is made up of three fish chasing each other in a circle, a way to represent that continuous search for improvement. “Our mentality is that this was going to work if we put in the necessary hours.”

In 2022, when the restaurant began to do well, Miguel Oshiro called one of his friends from Edo, Kenny Kuahara, to show him his culinary creations. “I'm very conservative when I eat, but Miguel told me 'come, try' and he surprised me,” says Kenny. He was referring to gyozas, those Japanese dumplings that are steamed, but at Tomoya they are prepared fried, filled with bacon and mozzarella cheese.

total fusion

Although the menu is very similar in both locations, the first Tomoya, located in San Miguel, is aimed at a family audience. Its varied menu (three ramen options, seven types of baos, three versions of poke bowls and four gyozas, sweet, spicy and flambé makis) make it ideal for that audience. Some of their fusions most celebrated by critics, Instagrammers and the public are silverside bao with Creole sarza and tartar, or more classic dishes such as pork belly donburi with sweet sauce over steamed rice, or takoyaki, small balls of octopus typical of the Japanese region of Kansai.

The culinary proposal of this restaurant is as variable in its cocktails as in its menu, where there are gyozas, rolls, wings, baos and ramen. Credit: Tomoya Nikkei Fusion.

The poke bowl, a typical salad of Hawaiian cuisine, is offered at Tomoya with salmon, chicken or panko prawns. But perhaps the ones that attract the most attention are the baos, steamed bread that here is the size of a hamburger sandwich. The prawn bao has, precisely, a prawn burger, pickled cucumbers, beet threads, lettuce and tartar sauce. “Delicious food doesn't have to be expensive. That was Miguel's idea that convinced me,” says Kenny. “And well served.”

After 12 years in Edo, Kenny Kuahara agreed to be part of a new Tomoya project, “very ambitious, the idea was not only to take charge of the restaurant, but also to franchise, think about opening several locations (possibly in Surco and Barranco) and do Something bigger. “Cooking is an art, a way to express what you think and feel. That vision was what I liked, the confidence to capture new ideas.” That's how they undertook the project of the first Peruvian izakaya together.

Peruvian Izakaya

The word izakaya is made up of three words that are equivalent to “a place to stay and drink.” In this way, the taverns in Japan are recognized, the izakayas where workers go after their intense work days. That was the concept to open, in October 2022, Tomoya Izakaya in the Miraflores district, which opens from Monday to Saturday until 11 pm offering Japanese beers (Asahi, Kirin, Orion, Sapporo), a sake bar and signature cocktails based on this same rice liquor.

To the informal service they add a bar with cocktails, Japanese beers and sake. Credit: Tomoya Nikkei Fusion.

In a more casual atmosphere, with benches decorated like Sapporo boxes, you can find various cocktails, designed by bartender Nixon Inga, such as the Umeshu Choya, made with a plum liquor, very traditional from Japan, and the Sake Bomb, very popular. in the United States, where sake and beer are combined; or the Toro Pikaru, which has flavored sake, rum, strawberry syrup, citrus juices and genmaicha honey (a green tea made from sencha leaves and toasted brown rice).

To accompany these cocktail options, at Tomoya Izakaya you can order some of the spicy rolls (Kani Spicy, Spicy Roll, Fusion, Acebichado), chicken wings (teriyaki, BBQ, spicy or dragon, sweet and spicy) and various promotions for stay for more than just drinking. “A simple kitchen, but well built. The food has to come out quickly and accompanied by good drinks, a place with fewer protocols than sushi bars to better connect with people.”

© 2022 Javier García Wong-Kit

bars (drinking establishments) cooking cuisine fusion cuisine izakaya Nikkei cuisine Peru restaurants Tomoya Fusión Nikkei (restaurant)
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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