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In the spirit of healthy competition, Canberra’s newest it-restaurant Inka, is about to give Monster a run for its money in terms of instagrammable restaurant stairwells.
When the long-anticipated Nikkei restaurant opens on Bunda Street next Thursday, we envisage Canberra’s foodie crowd will be winging it in to get their first taste of Peruvian/Japanese cuisine, and marking the event with a selfie under the massive cloth art installation that shrouds the staircase.
Based on a quipu–an ancient Andean recording device in which milestones are marked on strips of rope or material with knots—the feature is just one of several cultural details which sets the Inka bar mile high for décor.
But having been shipped over in a 40-foot container and requiring extreme measures to hang, it’s clear the quipu is the apple in the eye of restaurant owners Kiehyon Yoo, Adam Elchakak, and Sunny Matharu—who have been working night and day to prepare their latest venture for its launch.
From the hand-made woven lamps to the bar made from a gigantic shining pre-historic quartzite slab, the downstairs of Inka is a dramatic feast for the eyes, including a stone feature wall and an artfully tiled staircase.
Upstairs the vibe is more Japanese with beautifully carved wooden screens dividing a series of circular booths.
And just as the décor traverses an intriguing meld of Japan and Peru, so too, the menu shows off Japanese technique fuelled by the range of flavours found in the varied Peruvian terrain of mountains, rainforests and coasts.
Under the imaginative stewardship of Executive Chef Michael Muir—who cut his teeth under Chef Neil Perry at Rockpool and has returned to Australia after a stint at the acclaimed Zuma in London and Istanbul—Inka’s food is likely to create even more of a stir than its staircase.
The team at HerCanberra got to taste a succession of dishes in some kitchen testing this week and give a resounding thumbs up to the salmon with acevichada, sesame, shallots and quinoa and the tuna tataki with onzu, anchovy emulsion, chalaquita, apaltada and bonito flakes.
The flavours are bold and a lot of the dishes will feature the charred signature of a robata grill, such as the eggplant and feisty little green peppers.
The menu will feature sushi, ceviche and BBQ in abundance. Desserts carry the cross-cultural theme through to the sweet end of the meal – such as the chilli chocolate fondant with Pisco and guava sorbet or the coconut black sesame panna cotta with orange salsa and orange sesame wafer.
Be sure to peruse the cocktail list which also combines clean Japanese liquor with the wild jungles of South America.
We predict a busy future for Inka as people pass over its artfully inlaid welcome stone and gaze up at its six-metre feature ceilings. And while its interior design is sure to catch the eyes of passersby, the dramatic fusion of Japanese and Peruvian food is likely to capture both the tastebuds and imaginations of Canberra’s dining public.
Where: Shop B12/ 148 Bunda Street, Canberra City
When: Opens Thursday 11 March, 2021