Ever since the homeowner’s weekend over Halloween, Las Catalinas’ Nikkei dining gem, Tamaki, has been wildly busy. The demand has been so remarkable that, within just a month of its opening, Tamaki is gearing up for expansion. Chef Brian Tan, an original student of the Nikkei culinary movement, has been enchanting taste buds with his interpretation of Peruvian-Japanese fusion, and the overwhelmingly positive response from patrons has paved the way for an exciting chapter of growth for the restaurant.
Nikkei cuisine is a blend of Japanese culinary traditions interwoven with the vibrant flavors of Peruvian ingredients. Originating from the visionary chef Nobu Matsuhisa, the founder of the renowned Nobu restaurant chain, this culinary movement finds its roots in the delightful dishes crafted by Japanese immigrants in Peru, lovingly known as "Nikkei." Chef Brian, in his culinary journey, trained alongside the pioneering Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, learning firsthand about the Nikkei movement. Chef Brian has since embarked on his own culinary ventures, including his popular YouTube Channel, Cocinando con Brian.
Under the creative vision of architect Ines Guzman, co-owner of Taller Ken Studio, Tamaki has evolved into a beachfront sanctuary where classic Nikkei cuisine meets playful local customizations and sunny spaces.
The open-air setting offers an ocean view, and experiencing the sunset while dining at one of their exquisite family-style Guanacaste wood tables or at the sushi bar is truly a showstopper. Ines collaborated with woodworker Ivan Motalli of Teak Tecnoitaly to craft bespoke pieces that combine Japanese minimalist design with barefoot elegance.
Ivan takes immense pride in his dedication to sustainability. He sources wood from his responsibly managed farm, ensuring that the land undergoes reforestation. All wood used in his creations is certified by SINAC (Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación), an important environmental branch of the Costa Rican government. Wood is carefully chosen at the end of its lifecycle, harvested, and repurposed into new pieces, allowing it to enjoy a renewed purpose while respecting stringent environmental practices.
True to the Taller Ken Design ethos, local charm permeates even in this minimalist setting. Ines sought out the talents of local muralist Hannah Schweighardt to bring to life a repetitive fan motif, injecting a laid-back, summery atmosphere into the warm embrace of the rich wooden surroundings and open space. Dive into the video below for a look at her process and be sure to explore Hannah's Instagram for a glimpse behind the scenes of the muralist’s day-to-day work life.
With the increasing demand and warm reception from the Las Catalinas community, Tamaki is gearing up for an exciting expansion. Adding thirty percent more seating to the restaurant entails a larger team and an expanded kitchen to keep up with the growing appetite for their distinctive Nikkei cuisine.
Yamil Houdali Arenas, a partner at Tamaki, expresses his amazement at the overwhelming support from the community. In anticipation of December, Tamaki is set to unveil a tantalizing menu featuring twelve new dishes, including Nikkei Peruvian ceviche, tiraditos, sashimi, and the ever-popular ramen. Yamil highlights some must-try cocktails and dishes that have become crowd favorites. Additionally, he reveals an exciting addition to the weekly schedule: Sunset Sushi Happy Hour every Thursday, offering two-for-one selected cocktails and a unique Combo Kyoyu, featuring thirty maki rolls, perfect for sharing with friends and family.
Emphasizing the commitment to quality, Yamil shares that all bar ingredients are crafted in-house, from juices to ginger beer. He recommends trying the classic Peruvian cocktail, the Chilcano, featuring pisco, ginger beer, and lime. For those seeking a culinary adventure, Yamil suggests indulging in the cevichado maki roll, Mongolian beef "saltado" or stir-fry, paired with a bottle of sake or the Atsui cocktail, a unique blend of sake, Peruvian pisco, tamarind, hibiscus, lime, and chipotle salt for a perfectly balanced kick of spice and refreshment.
Whether you are in the mood for something new or are already a fan of Nikkei cuisine, treat your taste buds to Tamaki’s blend of Japanese and Peruvian flavors, accompanied by exceptional hospitality. The restaurant offers an elegant yet relaxed dining experience that promises to elevate your evening. Whether you are in the mood for lunch or dinner, do not miss the opportunity to try something new and savor the unique culinary journey crafted by Tamaki.
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