In the culinary world, it takes a creative visionary to blend a fusion of two diverse cultures into a curated cuisine with an eclectic and culturally diverse “Japan meets Mexico” menu. In the form of the Japanese kitchen, the phenomenon known as sushi has spanned the globe. Innovative and inquisitive is how one might describe Nick-san vanguard culinary artist, Angel Carbajal. Chef Carbajal is transforming the way both local Mexicans and the multitude of visitors to Puerto Vallarta and further north in Nuevo Vallarta in the Riviera Nayarit. This concept in sustainability began over 20 years dazzling visitors in the original Los Cabos location.
As the saying goes that it takes two to tango, Chef Carbajal’s fore into the subtle delicacies of Japanese cooking came about quite serendipitously. As the colorful Carbajal mentioned, “Over twenty years ago I met Japanese chef Masayuki Niikura who was on vacation in Cabo. We were both passionate about food and the blending of our countries cuisine. When Niikura or Nick San asked me if he could prepare a meal in the restaurant that I was working in, I said yes, and later he taught me some of the techniques like the importance of freshness in fish which gives the fish a greater flavor.”
From a chance encounter, the two epicureans formed a bond that led to the 1994 inception of Nick-san, lending from a Japanese approach with a Mexican flair. “Do you know that nearly 80% of the ingredients handled by Nick-san are imported directly from Japan? This is something not found in Mexico,” said Carbajal. As an aficionado of melt in your mouth sushi, I learned that Chef Niikura was the innovator who created the delicacy “Spicy Tuna.”
In Japan, the concept of the sushi bar consists of incredibly fresh fish hand-picked from the local fish market. Many Japanese chefs will cater the menu to the local fisherman’s catch of the day. Sushi in Japan is a delicate art form. Fresh fish is the norm, a dab of wasabi enhances its flavors and its served over rice. In Japan, you are also likely to find more sashimi than rolls.
Concepts well mimicked at Nick-san combined with a sprinkling of the tastes and flavors of what makes Mexico table an epicurean favorite. Combined Mexican flavors with Japanese techniques includes spinach wraps are stuffed with stone crab, red onions, chives, habanero, cilantro, and masago, on a bed of chilled mustard sauce.
Japanese cuisine has taken its rightful place at the forefront of desirable meals on a global stage. Cultural differences, such as a love for condiments have created a western Japanese menu that many times can be hit and miss. Under the tutelage of Chef Niikura, Carbajal’s kitchen prepares a well thought out menu; a delightful creative mix of Japan meets Mexico that leaves the palate yearning for more.
Culinary Japanese masterpieces infused with the flavors of Mexico. You will find hints of mango and other local fruits, the addition of various types of chilies, combined with the characteristics of Japan and tastes of Asia.
A light Japanese Cucumber Salad consisting of cucumber noodles seasoned with vinaigrette of sesame and white soy sauce. The crowd-pleasing Pan-Fried Spicy Fish with fillets of white fish cooked in a casserole dish with just the right spicy Cajun sauce kick served with pasta is one of the clever and original pairings offered at the eclectic eatery.
Lobster lovers will rejoice in the three main lobster dishes at Nick-san. The Lobster Angel sautéed in a tasty, thick mustard sauce while the Lobster Curry is fried Karage style in a curry-sesame sauce and served with shitake mushrooms. For a spicy take, the aromatic Lobster Sambal arrives marinated in sake, soy sauce, ginger and garlic, and drenched in a sauce of sweet and sour chilies, green onion and sesame oil.
As advertised you will find an excellent selection of the freshest Hamachi and Tekka sashimi, platters of tempting sushi, various takes on battered and fried tempura rounding off the Japanese fusion menu. The spread also includes teriyaki inspired meats. A pleasant ambiance by two culinary visionaries Nick-san has concocted an intriguing comingling of Japan and Asia meets Mexico. You won’t be disappointed!