A midst the vibrant Legian area, Padma Resort Legian sits pretty, offering a heavenly sanctuary to unwind and rejuvenate for more than 30 years. Known for its expansive family-friendly accommodations and top-notch facilities, the resort is also much loved for its curated dining destinations, including the legendary establishment Tenkai Japanese Nikkei Restaurant.
Providing a zen oasis with a Japanese tea garden-style ambience, the restaurant has been serving Japanese favourites to loyal customers for years. Recently, the restaurant welcomed Peruvian Chef Sandro Medrano, who brought along the exquisite flavours of Nikkei to the menu.
Sandro first honed his skills when he was a little boy helping his mother preparing traditional Peruvian dishes at his childhood home in Lima, Peru. Add to that his penchant for the delicate art of Japanese cuisine and Sandro is in his element when it comes to Nikkei cuisine – the amalgamation of Japanese and Peruvian flavours.
With the presence of Sandro in the restaurant, Tenkai’s menu has expanded to showcase Nikkei delicacies, in addition to Japanese fare – focusing on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Classic Peruvian culinary delights line the menu, with dishes such as ceviche, tiradito, maki Nikkei, nigiri Nikkei, robata anticuchos and a wide array of main courses.
A Lo Nikkei is a favourite ceviche, showcasing fresh tuna, chilli panka, tamarind tiger’s milk, soy sauce, wakame, katsuobushi and tobiko. For a unique local twist, opt for the A Lo Indo, with raw salmon ceviche, sweet mango, rocoto sambal, coconut tiger’s milk, cucumber, quinoa pop and kecombrang.
For diners who have a soft spot for easy light bites, the robata anticuchos selection is definitely appetising, offering Peruvian-style skewers with ingredients from land and sea. Choose from beef tenderloin, chicken, salmon, octopus, shrimp, asparagus, quail egg, or shiitake mushroom, and enjoy with special sauces from Sandro’s own recipes.
Moving on to the main dishes, the arroz con pato sees duck breast on Japanese rice with coriander and pumpkin puree – a harmonious combination of meat and the pungent flavour of kemangi rice. Try more Nikkei delights in dishes like the Tako Quinomar – an octopus dish braised in rocoto chilli oyster sauce with quinoa stew, or Nikuseco – short rib stew, coriander curry sauce, black bean stew, jicama and mushroom.
E: What made you decide to get into the culinary industry?
A: It was a coincidence, I studied medicine in Peru, and suddenly had to take a short course in gastronomy. Step by step, I fell in love with this art. My family has always been my biggest inspiration. I want to make my wife happy for all that we have achieved together. Along with my mom and my siblings, she is my biggest support. They have inspired me to pursue a career in the culinary industry.
E: When did your interest in cooking start?
A: My mother used to have a small food stand at a university in Peru when I was 13 years old. I helped her with the preparations, grocery, suppliers, and I learned to handle my own budget. I saw how my mum’s hands created magic in the form of amazing food. The people around her are always happy because of her food, and how she smiles and has fun. That world was attractive to me and without realising I began to get involved in the kitchen on a daily basis.
E: Why do you love this industry?
A: When I cook I feel like I am in my own world with my own rules, so I encourage myself to never give up and to be free to develop my creativity. This career is challenging, and sometimes I have been underestimated, but when I see someone smiling and saying that they love my food, it makes it all worth it. The positive comments give good encouragement and I believe I can share that feeling with my team and everyone I care about.
E: How did you develop your skill and knowledge in this industry?
A: I’ve travelled and worked around America and Asia, working with great professionals. I’ve visited Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico. I’ve worked with great chefs from Uruguay, Indonesia, Qatar, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico. Last but not least, I love to visit markets. That is the way to learn more about the culinary arts in each country I’ve visited and lived in.
E: Why Nikkei food?
A: Nikkei food is a fusion cuisine between Japanese and Peruvian flavours. Japanese food is all about technique, respect, precision and patience, while Peruvian food is colourful, tasteful and multicultural. I’m interested in Nikkei because I like the fusion of cultures, and the idea of not having borders or barriers that limit us to socialise as humans. I think food is a way to get closer to each other by sharing and learning from each other. I also think Nikkei is a way to feel close to my country and traditions.
E: What is unique about Nikkei cuisine?
A: The marinades and dressings we use to enhance flavours. For example, in ceviche we use the Japanese sashimi technique to cut the fish, and then we use vegetables, lime and kombu dashi to marinate the fish. All the ingredients enhance the flavour and texture of the fish with umami flavour.
E: What are the most important elements in Nikkei cuisine?
A: Lime, coriander and chillies, but for me the most important thing is the way to combine the ingredients in harmony and perfect balance.
E: What do you want to deliver to the diners through this Nikkei cuisine?
A: A new unique experience in Bali that highlights aroma, textures and new flavours incorporated with local products and techniques.
- A Lo Nikkei
- Tiradito Shiromi
- Arroz con pato
Tenkai Japanese Nikkei Restaurant
at Padma Resort Legian