Last year I had the opportunity to eat at a gastronomic dinner in Miami, where the special guest was Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura, who cooked an exquisite Japanese-Peruvian fusion meal. He has been voted the 7th best restaurant in the world this year on the San Pellegrino’s list. So I had to return to his restaurant in Lima for another “Nikkei” experience at San Martin 399, in the Miraflores district. Nikkei is a Peruvian cuisine with Japanese influences brought to Peru through Japanese immigrants. Unfortunately, the chef was not there the night we visited.
The restaurant was surprisingly casual, loud, and a little tired looking. The restaurant is located on the second floor, with 50 seats with some private dining rooms on the third floor, with 36 more seats. There are hundreds of ropes descending from the ceiling. The floors and tables are wooden and very ordinary. There is also a busy sushi bar and a bar for drinks. There is no natural light, and the restaurant uses artificial lighting. When you walk in the chefs behind the counter greet you by screaming Maido! We went with the 11-course tasting menu, which was a mistake for us. Many of the dishes were the same or similar to what we had in Miami. The a la carte menu had many different options, and we wouldn’t have been so stuffed, or with a much lighter wallet.
Mitsuharu’s menu includes ceviches, nigiris, which are sushi with Peruvian flavours, steamed buns, sea urchin rice, his famous beef short ribs that cook for over 50 hours, his cod marinated in miso with sweet potato and Brazil nuts, and so on. I was a little disappointed if I am being honest. The service was lacking. I had to ask for water a few times and it never came. The meal was rushed and uneven. My meal in Miami was more impressive and memorable. Central is rated 6th best in the world and Maido is number 7, yet there is no comparison. Central is miles apart in service, decor, execution, refinement, creativeness and innovation. We actually had a better meal at Astrid y Gaston which is rated 30 something. Maybe it was because the chef was out of town? If I didn’t have my original comparison, I may have given this a top review, but I still wouldn’t put this restaurant in the top ten in the world. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, and a unique experience it just didn’t surpass the best restaurant experiences of my life.