Peruvian-Japanese Concept Reopens as Brick-and-Mortar Houston Restaurant 

Lobster Ceviche at Pacha Nikkei

Chef and owner Masaru Fukuda of Pacha Nikkei is now welcoming guests to 10001 Westheimer in the Carillon, the former home of Toku Sushi. Fukuda was serving his take on Nikkei cuisine, which was developed by Japanese immigrants living in Peru, at Politan Row, a food hall in Rice Village that suddenly shuttered in November 2020. The closure left several food and drink purveyors, including Fukuda, without a space to operate. Luckily for him and fans of his food, his eatery is now reincarnated as a fully fledged brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Westchase neighborhood. 

After that closure, Fukuda partnered with Sebastien Laval, a hospitality consultant who has helped open other Houston restaurants, such as MAD, La Table and Le Colonial. Kellyn Ferman, formerly of Kata Robata, also joined the team as general manager. 

Chef and owner Masuru Fukuda of Pacha Nikkei
Chef and owner Masuru Fukuda of Pacha Nikkei. Photo by Marco Torres.

Fukuda won fans at Pacha Nikkei’s initial spot. There he showcased Nikkei (a word used in Peru for Japanese Peruvians) cuisine, which began to evolve when Japanese immigrants first arrived in Peru in 1899 and began translating their cooking techniques to Peruvian ingredients. Their approach to food would go on to influence foodways that were already melding indigenous, European, African and other Asian ingredients and cooking methods. According to Peru’s 2017 census, 22,534 Peruvians self-reported having Japanese ancestry, but some estimates put that number higher. Though that might be a small percentage of Peru’s total population, their cuisine has had influence nationally and beyond.  

pacha nikkei dining area with mural
A dining area at Pacha Nikkei with artwork of chef Masuru Fukuda’s family. Photo by Marco Torres.

The modern dining room is accented with murals depicting the circa-1800s immigration journey of Fukuda’s family, as well as other Japanese. There’s also a ceviche bar that seats up to 10. There, guests can enjoy a view of the marinated fresh fish and seafood dishes. They will spy the familiar ceviche clasico — Peruvian mahi-mahi, leche de tigre, aji limo (a hot Peruvian chile), cancha (crunchy roasted corn kernels), choclo (softer, large-kerneled Peruvian corn), red onion, cilantro and sweet potato purée — and lesser-seen options such as lobster ceviche, salmon tiradito and ceviche served chirashi-style over rice.

Those looking for heartier fare, including some that have become Peruvian staples, can try lomo saltado (beef tenderloin stir fry with soy-oyster sauce and vegetables over rice) and causa limeña, made with whipped potatoes (Peru has a bounty of potatoes) layered with chicken salad and accented with a quail egg, botija olives, avocado and grape tomatoes. Diners seeking something more adventurous should consider the Conchas a la Parmesana: Hokkaido scallops with foie gras shavings, smoked gouda, parmesan and cheddar cheeses. There is also lobster mac and cheese and a Japanese fish of the day

Pacha Nikkei also serves dishes that accommodate various diets. A few menu items are vegan, including the vegan maki with asparagus, piquillo pepper, takuan (daikon), cucumber, avocado and yamagobo (pickled burdock root). 

Wagyu Old Fashioned at Pacha Nikkei
Wagyu Old Fashioned at Pacha Nikkei. Photo by Marco Torres.

The drinks being poured at the 32-person bar area match the culinary perspective. There patrons will find sake, Japanese whiskey and beer, as well as Peruvian beer, pisco (a Peruvian brandy) and pisco infusions. The cocktails take advantage of both countries’ spirits and influences, producing drinks such as Pisco’nic, an in-house pisco blend with Japanese yuzu liqueur and tonic. Pacha Nikkei is also offering a Wagyu fat-washed Old Fashioned that also incorporates a shitake and nori reduction with ume (plum) in both pickled and liqueur form. 

Pacha Nikkei is open from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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