A fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine|Arab News Japan

Amin Abbas

DUBAI: Issei Dubai is a restaurant that features a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, which is a style born out of necessity in the 19th century that melted into a dish gives harmonies of colors, flavors and aromas with the best of the two countries, so different in appearance.

Nikkei cuisine puts the delicacy and fantasy of the Japanese culinary tradition on the table with the strong, vibrant and spicy flavors of Peru and Brazil.

Issei Dubai is an original concept created by the Radisson Hotel Group, this vibrant venue is residing on the 27th floor of the Radisson Hotel Dubai DAMAC Hills, which features colorful dishes complemented by majestic views of the golfing greens. The brand, which has outposts in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Tallinn, has already enjoyed tremendous acclaim in Europe.

Cahal Altman, Marketing Manager of Radisson DAMAC Hills shared exclusively to Arab News Japan the story and main concept of Issei Dubai: “The restaurant was established on November 16th of last year and is located on the 27th floor of the Radisson Hotel DAMAC Hills. The main concept of Issei Dubai revolves around offering a fusion of fresh Peruvian and Japanese flavors. With renowned chefs from Peru leading the kitchen, guests can expect a delightful combination of flavors showcased in dishes like yakitori skewers with lime mayo, salmon tataki with jalapeño and papaya, and crispy octopus with a roccoto-chilli sauce. The restaurant’s design is a vibrant and harmonious convergence of colors and styles, featuring vivid columns with neon Nazca Lines, handpicked Japanese ceramics, and traditional Peruvian décor pieces like the ‘Torito de Pucara’ for good fortune and protection. The menu is complemented by inventive cocktails, including Issei’s unique take on the Pisco Sour and the Matcha Sour, blending Peruvian and Japanese ingredients.”

About the challenges for establishing & opening Issei Dubai, Altman said: “Establishing and opening Issei Dubai presented several challenges that we had to overcome in order to deliver a truly special experience for our guests. Fortunately, we had the advantage of Issei already being launched successfully in Radisson Hotels located in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Talinn, which provided us with a solid foundation.”

“Our primary goal was to offer authentic Nikkei cuisine, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese flavors. To ensure the authenticity of our dishes, we sought the expertise of Peruvian Chef Juan, who guided us in sourcing the right ingredients and establishing relationships with reliable suppliers. We also reached out to the Peruvian consulate, who directed us to Urban Nest, an interior design company in the Middle East that helped us acquire essential Peruvian and Japanese items for the restaurant, such as the symbolic ‘Torito De Pucara,’ representing protection, happiness, and prosperity in Peru.”

“While sourcing the necessary ingredients and artifacts for the restaurant was challenging, our next hurdle was assembling a skilled and dedicated team of chefs and staff. We were determined to bring in talented Peruvian chefs and floor team members who would truly elevate the dining experience. After an extensive search, we were fortunate to recruit three exceptional Peruvian colleagues: Chefs Luisa and Marlon, along with F&B senior captain Jessica. With their expertise and passion, the Issei Dubai team was finally able to showcase the best of Nikkei cuisine and extend warm hospitality to our valued guests. Overcoming these challenges enabled us to create an exceptional dining destination that stays true to the essence of Nikkei cuisine, delivering remarkable flavors and impeccable service to our patrons,” he added.

About the response & feedback from the people who tried Japanese food at Issei Dubai, Altman said: “The response and feedback from people who have tried Japanese food at Issei Dubai have been overwhelmingly positive since our opening just over 6 months ago. Our dedication to using top-quality ingredients has truly showcased the best of Nikkei cuisine, and when combined with the breathtaking views overlooking the Trump International Golf Course from our 27th-floor location, Issei has quickly become a favorite destination for guests.”

“The reputation of Issei has spread far and wide, attracting visitors from even greater distances than other restaurants and bars within the hotel. Our team has played a vital role in creating unforgettable evenings for our guests, providing exceptional service and ensuring that every visit is memorable. Many of our guests were initially unfamiliar with Nikkei cuisine before dining at Issei, but they have been pleasantly surprised by the freshness and distinct flavors of the dishes. Experiencing the unique combination of Peruvian and Japanese influences has left a lasting impression on their taste buds.”

“Overall, the response to Issei Dubai has been fantastic, with guests appreciating the quality of our ingredients, the stunning views, and the opportunity to discover and savor Nikkei cuisine. We are delighted to have created an exceptional dining experience that continues to exceed expectations and leave a positive and lasting impression on our valued guests,” he added.

About distinguishing Issei Dubai from other Japanese restaurants in Dubai, Altman said: “What distinguishes Issei Dubai from other Japanese restaurants is its unique fusion of Peruvian and Japanese flavors in ‘Nikkei’ cuisine. With innovative dishes crafted by Peruvian chefs, stunning views of the golf course and Dubai skyline, and a vibrant restaurant design featuring elements from both cultures, Issei Dubai offers a truly exceptional and unforgettable dining experience.”

“Moreover, Issei Dubai goes beyond just serving delicious food. The restaurant boasts an inventive cocktail menu that complements the flavors of the cuisine. Guests can enjoy Issei’s own twist on the classic Pisco Sour, crafted exclusively in copper vessels, or explore the Matcha Sour, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese ingredients that offers a refreshing and delightful taste experience.”

“The restaurant’s dedication to sourcing top-quality ingredients and the expertise of their Peruvian chefs ensure that every dish is a harmonious blend of flavors, textures, and cultural influences. The innovative creations showcase the creativity and expertise of the culinary team,” he added.

Luisa Rosario, Head Chef of Issei Dubai told Arab News Japan about his story and experience with Japanese cooking: “My journey in the world of Japanese cooking has been deeply influenced by my family and my grandmother, who was an exceptional cook and prepared delicious and simple meals for our large family of 17. Being named after her, I believe her passion and culinary skills have been passed down to me.”

“After completing my culinary education, I embarked on my professional career at La Mar, a renowned Peruvian restaurant owned by Gaston Acurio, a highly acclaimed chef in Latin America. Although Peruvian cuisine was my initial focus, my first exposure to Japanese cooking came when I was involved in opening a Japanese restaurant at the Sheraton Miramar Hotel in Chile. This experience allowed me to delve into the intricacies of Japanese cuisine and further hone my skills.”

“Seeking to expand my horizons and deepen my understanding of Japanese culinary traditions, I ventured to Montenegro. There, I had the privilege of being part of the pre-opening team at the prestigious Tapasake restaurant situated in the exquisite One & Only Hotel. This particular chapter of my culinary journey proved to be one of the most enriching experiences as I immersed myself in the intricacies, techniques, and styles of Japanese cuisine. It allowed me to develop my knowledge and explore new dimensions of this remarkable culinary art”.

“Overall, my story and experiences in Japanese cooking have been shaped by my familial connection to the culinary world, my training in culinary school, and my professional endeavors at esteemed establishments such as La Mar and Tapasake. Each step along the way has contributed to my passion for cooking and my commitment to creating delicious and authentic Japanese dishes,” she added.

About her concept for cooking Japanese food, Rosario said: “My approach to cooking Japanese food revolves around honoring the traditional cooking methods while incorporating my own touch. I strongly believe in simplicity and the use of fresh, high-quality ingredients as the foundation of my dishes. By blending the cooking techniques of both Peruvian and Japanese cuisines, I aim to create a fusion that results in flavorful dishes with enticing textures and visually appealing presentations. My concept revolves around striking the perfect balance between flavors, textures, and visual aesthetics, ensuring a memorable dining experience for all,” she added.

Regarding Issei Dubai upcoming plans for the near future, Altman said: “In the near future, we have a range of exciting plans that we eagerly anticipate. Our foremost goal is to make the most of the upcoming season and solidify the position of ISSEI as a premier dining destination. We are enthusiastic about welcoming a greater number of guests and showcasing the unique ambience and culinary offerings that define our venue.”

“One of our upcoming endeavors involves upgrading a new section of the restaurant, which will offer a slightly different atmosphere compared to the rest of the venue. This addition will provide guests with captivating views of Dubai Marina and the new DAMAC Lagoons, enhancing their dining experience. Furthermore, we are committed to expanding our menu options, introducing a variety of new dishes that capture the essence of Nikkei cuisine. By doing so, we aim to provide a wider range of choices and cater to diverse culinary preferences.”

“To elevate the overall experience at ISSEI, we are excited to introduce live music on selected days of the week. This addition will further enhance the ambiance and create a vibrant atmosphere for our guests to enjoy. With all these upcoming developments, we are filled with anticipation and enthusiasm for what lies ahead. We are dedicated to continually refining and enhancing the offerings at ISSEI, ensuring that each visit is a memorable and delightful experience for our valued guests,” he added.

About his recommendations for those who wants to try the food at “Issei Dubai” or learn making Japanese food, Altman said: “For those who want to indulge in the exquisite flavors of Issei Dubai’s culinary creations, it’s highly recommended to try their signature dishes that fuse Peruvian and Japanese flavors in ‘Nikkei’ cuisine. From the yakitori skewers to the salmon tataki and crispy octopus, each dish showcases an innovative and harmonious blend of ingredients and techniques.”

“Additionally, Issei Dubai recently hosted the Four Hands Chef Dinner during the Dubai Food Festival, where talented chefs from Latin America joined forces with head chef Luisa to showcase the flavors and techniques of their respective cuisines. Attending such collaborative dining events, guests were able to expand their culinary horizons and discover the cultural richness of Latin American and Japanese culinary traditions. These activities provide opportunities to learn from expert chefs, experience the flavors firsthand, and gain insights into the techniques used to create these unique culinary creations,” he added.


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