Japanese and Latin American cuisines may seem like an unusual marriage, but what many people don’t realise is that Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, while neighbouring Peru boasts a 160,000-strong community of Japanese descendents.
One major cultural outcome was the rather magical fusion of foods (known as Nikkei in Peru), which has been doing the rounds in South America for nigh on a century, but only now is it taking hold in the Far East reaches of happening Hong Kong. Four of our faves include these blended beauties…
Newbie Uma Nota offers pioneering street food in Soho, teaming Nippon culinary techniques with delicious Brazilian ingredients. Raw, skewered and shared plates include tangy red snapper, prawn and calamari ceviche, and São Paulo-style dumplings, plus hybrid cocktails (caipirinhas, sake and whisky). Hip design mixes zen wood-and-woven interiors with vibrant art and a colourful tiled-step entry.
Central’s TokyoLima brings together delicate Japanese and zingy Peruvian flavours. This late-night resto-bar, styled like an informal izakaya, turns out treats including grilled chicken marinated in kimchi and orange. Sip or sup at the open kitchen or order the ‘Feed Me’ tasting menu for your table. Seafood, sushi plus over 20 highly curated sakes!
Wan Chai’s favela-repping diner and whisky bar Djapa combines intricate, fresh Japanese bites with bold, hearty Brazilian. Quaff fusion cocktails, wine, whisky or sake on the ground floor, where rainbow-bright wooden chairs and graffiti art sets a street food mood, then hit the first floor for casual dining, lit by bamboo and recycled plastic bottle PET Lamps.
Peruvian-Japanese El Mercado draws on Peru’s dynamic Spanish, Chinese and Japanese food heritage, foregrounding market-sourced produce from the land and sea. Tapas span tuna tataki and empanadas, with mains including arroz con mariscos and suckling pig. Wrap up with the Rose Garden dessert (tres leches with rose ice-cream). You’ll love the serene wood-and-white interiors too. Belleza!
Uma Nota / 38 Peel St / Central / +852 2889 7576 / dinner Mon-Sat /uma-nota.com
TokyoLima / G/F / 18-20 Lyndhurst Terr / Central / +852 2811 1152 / dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun / tokyolima.hk
Djapa / G/F / Lee Tung Ave / 200 Queen's Road E / Wan Chai / +852 2617 2900 / lunch & dinner daily / lecomptoir.hk
El Mercado / 21/F / 239 Hennessy Rd / Wan Chai / +852 2388 8009 / lunch & dinner daily / elmercado.hk