INTI offers a flavourful Nikkei experience on the 21st floor
By Nzula & Christine Olubayi
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience, while sitting in a restaurant furnished in comfortable elegance with touches of Japenese culture and decor, INTI is the restaurant for you. INTI is located at the One Africa Place building on the corner of Waiyaki way and Rhapta road.
“A Nikkei experience” is the tagline that comes after the name INTI and we found out why during our visit. Nikkei is used to refer to a Japanese emigrant who is not a citizen of Japan. The word is commonly used in Japan to refer to people of Japanese ancestry that are living abroad as citizens of other countries. In the culinary world, it refers to the Japanese-Peruvian cuisine.
So how did the culinary world end up with Nikkei? Towards the end of the 19th century, some Japanese farmers migrated into Peru to work on its fields and plantations. The Japanese brought their culinary techniques to Peru, fused them with the local Peruvian flavours, birthing Nikkei.
INTI’s menu is vast and varied and we were lucky enough to try a good number of entrées prepared for us by Peruvian born head chef Kinyo Klinger Rodas whose dishes are inspired Nikkei takes on traditional Peruvian dishes.
NB: Ceviche is a seafood dish originally from Peru made with fresh raw fish soaked in citrus juices.
The Peruvian Ceviche (KSh. 1,200) which is a refreshing appetizer and an absolute delight if your palate adores raw fish. Your tongue will delight in the blending of the citrus and chilli ingredients in the dish. The Ceviche Nikkei (KSh. 1,250) on the other hand is a meld of flavours which come from the tuna, onion, cashew nuts, white and yellow corn, mixed greens in chive & tiger milk dressing.
The best thing about INTI is that vegetarians are always in mind and that is clear from the options on their menu. We tried the Ceviche Al Veg (KSh. 1,200) which is a spicy, citrusy fusion of quinoa and mushrooms set in chilli tiger milk sauce and the Caribean Mango Ceviche (KSh. 950) which is a sight for sore eyes. Served in a cocktail glass, the bright orange is an inviting spicy, sweet, citrusy delight.
For our second round of dishes, we had the Acevichada Maki Roll (KSh. 1,250) which is a tangy combination of fish, shrimp and onions, the A lo Pobre Roll (KSh. 1,200) which is a comfortable option for those who prefer red meat, paired with avocado and plantain and the Philadelphia Roll (KSh. 1,350) which a healthy serving of shrimp paired with cream cheese and chimichurri sauce.
The vegetarian option, the Truffle Roll (KSh. 1,250), is a colourful beet red delight paired with a tangy teriyaki sauce.
Nikkei’s Arroz Con Marisco (KSh. 2,300) is a dish that reveals itself slowly and with every bite. It is made with shrimp, octopus, squid and cheese and is served with rice. If you pay attention to the flavours as they explode in your mouth, you’ll be able to taste each of the ingredients.
The Sakayanaki (KSh. 1,850) is a dish that looks vegetarian but isn’t. The dish is topped with a skewed piece of fish that complements the green base made of quinoa, spinach and chimichurri sauce it sits on.
Pisco on the house
INTI is a pisco bar. Pisco is a clear spirit produced in Peru and it comes with a kick so we urge you to drink responsibly. The bar also serves a varied array of other drinks but our suggestion would be to try out the Pisco cocktails such as the Pisco Sour (KSh. 800), Chicha Sour (KSh. 950), Hibiscus – Chilcano Infusions (KSh. 900) and the Pisco Granadilla (KSh. 950).
If you try nothing else on the dessert menu, we urge you to try the Inka Gold which comes with a 24 Karat gold chocolate ball and a spot of Pisco icecream.
INTI’s menu asks you to be brave and bold with your palate and rewards you for it by finding an exquisite balance between tangy, sour and flavourful, spicy dishes.