14/10/2017 by Edwin Pangestu 0 Comments
The Height of Nikkei Cuisine
It is always exciting to see the acculturation process of two different cultures. It’s even more exciting if it’s served on a dish, at the highest restaurant in Indonesia.
If you grow up in the 80’s to 90’s, you must be familiar with the word “Henshin” (literally mean “transform”). It’s the exact word screamed by Kamen Riders, from Takeshi Hongo (Kamen Rider Ichigo) to Kotaro Minami (Kamen Rider Black) and beyond, whenever they transform from the human form to the mighty Kamen Rider. The Westin Jakarta uses the catchy, edgy, and meaningful name to describe the transformation from their rather conservative lobby from ground floor to the more contemporary Henshin, located on floor 67-69.
The Japanese Peruvian, has a long history that can be traced to the end of 18th century. Back then, there was a rumor in Japan that a country called Peru somewhere on the opposite side of the earth was “full of gold” and promised many jobs. The Japanese immigrants mostly worked on sugarcane farm. After the employment contract ended, many decided to remain in Peru, one of them is Chef Hajime Kasuga’s grandfather. The world now calls the Japanese Peruvian with the name Nikkei.
Culinary-wise, both cuisines are vastly different. Japanese food is all about fish and rice, on the other side, Peruvian dishes usually involves potatoes and plantain.
According to New York Times, Peruvians threw away or fed the dogs with things like octopus and eel because they have no idea what to do with them. When the Japanese introduced new ways of using fish and seafood, Peru’s national dish of ceviche was reinvented.
The legend said that the fishermen back then only have fish and lemon or lime. They squeezed the lemon juice, threw in some garlic, salt, and chilly and named it “tiger’s milk”, because they literally felt stronger after consumed it. The tiger’s milk was then poured into the raw fish, nowadays; we know the dish as ceviche.
The Highest Restaurant in Indonesia
First, The Westin Jakarta was planning to open a traditional Japanese restaurant. Along the way, with tough brainstorming, they found out that “regular” Japanese restaurant was too common and they decided to give a little twist by introducing the concept of Japanese Peruvian. Hajime Kasuga, the third generation of Nikkei, was appointed as Head Chef after successfully run Hanzo, his own restaurant in Peru which won Best Japanese Restaurant in 2008 and 2009.
The Nikkei cuisine’s taste profile is mostly acidic, tasty, and spicy, although most Indonesians’ won’t find it spicy enough compared to our local cuisine. The team believed that most Indonesian, along with Hajime’s fantastic presentation and contemporary venue, would easily accept this kind of taste profile.
To date, Henshin is now officially known as the highest restaurant in Jakarta, even in Indonesia. It might to a while for competitors to build even higher one in the near future. It reminds us of Babel Tower, isn’t it?
Henshin started off at the 67th floor where they have the bar & lounge if you opt for some light bites, snacks, and cocktails. This level is also the only one which has outdoor venue. The 68th floor features the exclusive 45 seats with 2 open kitchens where you can see and interact directly with the chef. Chef Hajime is known for his welcome and open attitude with the guests, who knows you’ll be lucky enough to get some free testers for his new menus. When you want some private dining room for special occasions, or simply want a set menu, 69th floor is your ticket. However, minimum purchase will be applied in this venue.
With its contemporary and modern interior, which combines Japanese and Peruvian elements, you can see the breathtaking view of Jakarta’s romantic city light in Henshin. In fact, from the opening of Henshin in July 20th 2017, they already have more than 3 couple proposals. You also have higher chance of meeting some celebrities and socialites dining here.
For an authentic experience of Japanese Peruvian, their ceviche line (Clasico, Nikkei, Langosta, and Trio Ceviche) is a must try appetizer. If you want your ceviche to be cut wide and thin, carpaccio style, you may opt for Tiradito. One of the recommended Tiradito is Pulpo Al Olivo: octopus, Peruvian olive sauce and pepper jelly.
If you’re in the mood for a more Japanese dish, Henshin serves its signature Hajime Platter, 7 chef’s selected sashimi of the day and Nikkei Rolls line such as Lomito (beef tenderloin, zucchini, red pepper, asparagus, chimichurri) and Henshin (unagi, flame seared foei gras, fried shrimp, spicy lump crab, avocado).
In Henshin they call the main course as Fondo. The recommended fondos are Pulpo Henshin (low temperature cooked octopus, potato, panca sauce) and Lomo Azul (coffee & spice rubbed beef tenderloin, teriyaki blue cheese). These are the kind of menus that you don’t see very often in any Japanese restaurants in Jakarta.
Since Henshin is also a romantic dining venue, gentlemen may impress their ladies by ordering the ladies’ favorite cocktail Sakura Maru; infused Geisha Blossom Tea, London No. 1 Gin, yuzu juice, rose syrup, parfait amour bitter. In case you’re wondering, the name actually comes from the ship which carried Japanese families form Yokohama to Peru to begin their new life back in 1873. On the other hand, for ladies, you can also impress your spouse by ordering The Last Ronin (Kakubin whisky, choya, umeshu, yuzu juice, fresh pomelo, pasteurized egg syrup) for him.
Henshin is a breath of fresh air among the more saturated, typical Japanese restaurants in Jakarta. The Nikkei cuisine also has unique taste profile: acidic, tasty, and spicy, that doesn’t stray too far from our local taste preference. In addition, its cool restaurant name, the contemporary Japanese Peruvian interior and its spectacular venue will also elevate your dining experience to a new height, both literally and figuratively.
Levels 67-69, The Westin Jakarta
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav C-22A
Karet Kuningan, Setiabudi,
Jakarta Selatan, DKI Jakarta - 12940