Skip to main content



In Miami, a family of chefs is taking Nikkei cuisine to new heights of craftsmanship and flavor. 

In Peru, there’s a popular cuisine that combines influences from Peru and Japan. It’s called Nikkei, named for the Japanese term for emigrants of Japanese origin and their descendants. And these days, one of the best places to experience the cutting edge of Nikkei cooking is in Miami, at the restaurants of Chef Nando Chang, his father, Chef Fernando Chang, and his sister, Chef Valerie Chang. 

Nando and Valerie grew up in the coastal city of Chiclayo, Peru in a Peruvian Chinese family and moved to Miami when Nando was 14 and Valerie was 10. Fernando, known in the family as “Papa Chang,” found work as a sushi chef, and instilled in his children a passion for the culinary arts. He also taught them to cherish and respect the ocean and the beauty of impeccably prepared fresh seafood—a tradition that harkens back to the family’s Peruvian roots and continues to inform their cooking in Miami today. 

The Changs currently own and operate three Miami restaurants. Chef Nando’s main focus is Itamae Ao, a seasonally inspired tasting- menu concept. Chef Valerie runs the kitchen at Maty’s, a 150-seat restaurant that offers fresh takes on traditional Peruvian cooking. And Chef Fernando leads the family’s sushi restaurant, B-Side. 

“Gastronomically, Peru is a reflection of the influences of so many immigrants from other countries,” says Chef Nando. “Nikkei cuisine is all about what Japanese immigrants have taught us. A great example is Peruvian ceviche. Japanese cooks showed us how to think of it more like sashimi—dressing raw seafood just before serving, instead of ‘cooking’ it in an acidic marinade. You can see that influence in every cevicheria in Peru. Octopus is another example,” he adds. “It was never consumed in Peru until Japanese fisherman and cooks taught us how to serve it raw. Now we eat it all the time in dishes like Pulpo al Olivo—octopus sashimi with Peruvian olives.” 

When asked to describe his own take on Nikkei cuisine at Itamae Ao, Chef Nando sums it up like this: “Pristine product, Peruvian chiles, Japanese techniques, and Miami seasonality.” He takes pride in sourcing and serving the freshest seafood and bringing out its flavor. “Japanese cooking is about highlighting the natural flavors of an ingredient,” he says. “The more a cook can enhance that natural flavor, that’s the measure of their skill. If you can make a prawn taste like the best prawn you ever ate, that’s what it’s all about. And soy sauce, with its rich umami, is a great way to do that, because it doesn’t just add flavor, it actually boosts the flavor of other ingredients.” 

One ingredient source Chef Nando has always relied on for quality and consistency is Kikkoman. “We use the regular and Less Sodium Soy Sauces, the Kotteri Mirin®️ and the Hoisin Sauce, and I love the texture of Panko. I also use the Tempura Batter Mix as a dredging flour to give a light, crisp coating to all kinds of fried foods.” 

So what’s it like working together as a family? “When it comes to our professional cooking, we stay in our own lanes,” says Chef Nando. “But when it comes to cooking for each other, brainstorming about the businesses, or just hanging out, that’s where we always feel the love.” 

Curious about Nikkei cuisine and where it’s heading? Here are four of Chef Nando’s most popular dishes to inspire you.  

Blood Clam Rice

There’s always a rice dish on the menu at Itamae Ao, with the seasonal ingredients changing every month. This striking presentation—Chef Nando’s homage to Arroz con marizcos, one of Peru’s most popular seafood dishes—features blood clams, which have a delicate flavor and a bright red color due to their high concentration of hemoglobin. “I grew up eating them in Chiclayo,” says Chef Nando. “They were my dad’s favorite ceviche when I was growing up.” To make this dish he starts by preparing a light blood clam stock seasoned with Kikkoman® Soy Sauce and then uses it to cook Calasparra rice (a variety often used to make Paella) risotto style, adding cuttlefish ink for dramatic color. The rice is topped with the clams and dollops of hoisin aioli.

View Recipe 


Scallop Tiradito

Chef Nando’s menus always feature a tiradito—raw seafood dressed with a spicy citrus sauce—that changes weekly. “Our tiraditos are very sashimi-forward to keep the integrity of the seafood,” he says. This one showcases freshly shucked scallops, lightly cured with salt and sugar, with a bright, clean lime-chili-garlic leche di tigre sweetened with Kikkoman® Kotteri Mirin. It’s finished with dollops of huacatay oil. Chef Nando describes huacatayan herb also known as black mint or Peruvian mint—as having “an earthy flavor and aroma that balances the acidity of the leche de tigre beautifully.

View Recipe 


Swordtip Squid Jalea

Jalea is Peru’s version of a fried seafood platter. Here, Chef Nando flavors a whole swordtip squid with a classic jaleastyle marinade made with Kikkoman® Less Sodium Soy Sauce, red bell peppers, green onions, cloves, and ginger, and then dredges it in a mixture of superfine cornmeal and Kikkoman® Tempura Batter Mix. He then fries it, and serves it over a salad of tender greens, watermelon radishes, gooseberries, and fennel in a spicy sesame dressing. “I love that contrast of serving fried foods with lightly dressed greens, so you get crispy and tender, crunchy and creamy in every bite,” he says. 

View Recipe 


Swordfish Katsu

True to Chef Nando’s seafood-inspired roots, his take on tonkatsu, a breaded pork cutlet, replaces the pork with a meaty toploin swordfish fillet. He marinates the fish with Kikkoman® Soy Sauce and Kotteri Mirin® with a touch of fresh ginger, dredges it in Kikkoman® Tempura Batter Mix, dips it in an egg wash and coats it with Kikkoman® Panko before frying. The crispy golden cutlet is served with a Wasabi Acebichado sauce flavored with garlic, jalapeños, cilantro, roasted shishito peppers, lime juice, mustard, and Kikkoman® Wasabi Sauce. A dramatic garnish of ikura (salmon roe) rounds out the presentation. “I think wasabi is underrated” the chef says. “It adds a different kind of spicy heat that’s perfect with anything fried.”  

View Recipe 


Sign Me Up!

With recipes from chefs around the country, new applications and trends, and foodservice pro tips, discover delicious new ways to take flavor next-level with Kikkoman’s quarterly eNewsletter.

Sign Up

Click to scroll back to the top