Thursday, May 30, 2024

Michelin-recognized Sushi Nikkei opens second Long Beach location in Belmont Shore

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For Brian Addison original full feature on Sushi Nikkei from earlier this year, click here.

The owners of Sushi Nikkei—sushi master Eduardo Chang Ogata and his wife, Daiwa Wong—2022 has proven beyond fruitful: After opening their flagship location in Bixby Knolls earlier this year—with much attention from critics and patrons alike, earning a recognition from the Michelin California Guide as well as being persistently packed—they have now opened a second location in Belmont Shore, taking over the former Haewah Dal space in between Argonne Avenue and Granada.

Replicating the same menu as their original location, the move comes as both smart and celebratory: Belmont Shore, after a tumultuous five years, is back on the rise, with new restaurants like Liv’s and Yasu enjoying steady success, staples like Nick’s and Saint & Second always filled, and a seemingly plethora of upcoming openings: L’Antica, Breakfast Republic, Louie’s…In this sense, the addition of Sushi Nikkei seems rather serendipitous.

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Sushi Nikkei Chef Eduardo Chang Ogata. Photo by Brian Addison.

“There was really only one choice: We do this now or we push it much farther into the future,” Daiwa said, who is expecting the couple’s second child. “So we decided on now and the community of Belmont Shore has been nothing but inviting and welcoming.”That sense of inviting and welcoming is easily to exude with Sushi Nikkei, bringing a form of sushi not to be found anywhere in the city except, well, at their original location.

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The crispy tartare roll sits in front of Sushi Nikkei’s tuna tasting platter. Photo by Brian Addison.

Peru’s rich history of Asian immigrants—particularly Japanese and Chinese—have brought with it an equally rich development of sushi as seen through a Peruvian lens thanks to the children of Asian descent. Sushi Nikkei is but one of the world’s examples of that—but it is one of the rare examples in SoCal.The result? A “Dusty Roll” where shrimp, octopus, and tuna are topped with a buttery parmesan crust that creates an equally butter, umami bomb of a roll.

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The sushi assembly line in Sushi Nikkei’s new location. Brian Addison.

Or a must-order, eight-piece Sushi Nikkei tasting, where you can feel and taste the evolution of Eduardo’s sushi journey. From popped-and-seasoned quinoa atop a white fish to a genuinely surprising butter-meets-parmesan scallop, where Eduardos house-made compound parmesan butter is set atop a scallop before being seared to a golden brown crisp.It is Peruvian ingredients—chalaquita, quinoa, aji chiles, parrillera salsa…— molded by Japanese techniques.

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The bluefin tuna tasting plate. Photo by Brian Addison.

And for those that are still scratching their heads over the idea of what, exactly, “Peruvian sushi” means, the quick thing to note—as I did more extensively in my previous feature on the food of Eduardo—is that this is not fusion food but a direct product of Japanese culture flourishing in Peru.”Sushi is as Peruvian as it is Japanese back home,” Daiwa said. “They are intertwined with the spirit of the Nikkei.”

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The buttery umami bomb that is the Dusty Roll from Sushi Nikkei. Photo by Brian Addison.

“Nikkei” in Japanese means those of Japanese descendants, the literal span of the Japanese diaspora worldwide—and for a culture so subsumed in its own identity, with strong ties to family and geography, those outside of the island proper have had to doubly fight to maintain their sense of Japanese-ness while also assimilating to their new homes. In Peru, where both Eduardo and Daiwa hail from, the Nikkei have shifted and molded Peruvian cuisine in a way that few other outside cultures have—and decades later, much like how Sushi Nikkei in Long Beach already feels like it has been a permanent part of our food fabric for years, the food of the Nikkei in Peru is just as Peruvian as lomo saltado.

Sushi Nikkei’s new location is located at 5020 E. 2nd St. in Belmont Shore. Their original location is located at 3819 Atlantic Ave. in Bixby Knolls.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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