Nikkei of Peru brings stand-out fusion cuisine to Port Washington.
Open for lunch, noon to 3 p.m., on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Open for dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Closed Tuesday.
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The TV perched above the sushi bar is set to a preview of March Madness. But chef Hermanto Jong already is moving at point-guard speed.
He slices, he scores.
Hermanto and Lina Jong closed ASA Peruvian Tapas & Sushi, their serene downtown Huntington spot, in a landlord dispute last year.
They’ve relocated, renamed and reopened with a rousing fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine that already makes Nikkei of Peru a contender for the year’s local Elite Eight, restaurant edition.
“Nikkei” refers to Japanese who migrated to Peru, other lands and this time other counties, too.
Hermanto Jong, also known as Asa, sharpened his knives and skills during a decade at Nobu 57 in Manhattan. Lina Jong, who runs the dining room, is a veteran of the original Nobu and its sibling, Nobu Next Door.
Nobu Matsuhisa’s fusion festivities, of course, now play out in a worldwide empire, where many black cod take their ultimate swim in miso sauce.
That last dip happens here as well, in the compact space that used to house Groppelo’s and Sisina. The hue now is a quiet reddish brown, interrupted by colorful outbursts of framed, swirling, backlit, abstract images. They jump out like Nikkei’s fare does in sushi-saturated Nassau.
Six of the house’s 42 seats are at the sushi bar. Reserve one. Yes, Jong offers the familiar sushi and sashimi. But he turns Nikkei into a destination with the pioneering kind that’s prefaced “inspiration” on the menu.
Eight pieces of silky, uncooked fish arrive with a different, perfectly matched topping. A dab of chimichurri, a creamy jalapeño creation, a drop of sesame-ponzu sauce, dots of black sea salt, threads of crisp onion, a thin half-moon of tomato — all accent and heighten the seafood without overwhelming it. There’s a tuna roll, too, maybe as insurance.
And diners catching a glimpse of it all start looking away from their California rolls.
A nibble or two into a shrimp tempura number, a couple asks about the Nobu standby of sashimi tacos with tomatillo salsa just served nearby. The very inquisitive point to another table’s glistening ceviche of finfish and shellfish, cured and dressed with citrusy “tiger’s milk,” which they drink as a chaser and a discovery.
Suddenly, king crab tempura and miso black cod seem so tame. A couple of more adventurous appetites veer toward a rich, elegant winter special of marine foie gras: a small tower of steamed monkfish liver, pate-style, set on sweet miso sauce, capped with caviar.
Conversations stop mid-sentence.
Attention turns to tender, quickly seared beef tiradito, with tiny garlic and scallion chips, a spur of citrus-soy, and a few fine grains of black sea salt.
Cellphones are ignored.
Seared beef dumplings find a match with slightly grainy sesame-ponzu sauce, updating gyoza and expectations.
What’s this guy doing?
By now, the millennial contingent figures pan-seared scallops automatically belong with guacamole mousse and jalapeño salsa. Change the tuna tataki order, please.
Broadening the appeal, Jong prepares juicy roasted chicken, Peruvian-style, with equal aplomb. Likewise, a grilled rib-eye with Peruvian potatoes and shishito peppers; and flavorful sliders, all of which go with a crisp kale and Asian pear salad.
Between sips of sake, white wine and Diet Coke, skeptics murmur about dessert. Tonight, the big sweet tastes inspired by bananas Foster.
“Nikkei,” or to be exact, Nikkei 225, also is the name of Japan’s stock index.
On Shore Road, the market just closed a lot higher.