INTI: A Nikkei Experience restaurant is a pioneer in its own right having introduced a new dining experience; fusing Peruvian cooking with Japanese techniques. We had a conversation with Chef Kinyo Rodas who’s planning on taking his vacation soon and come back with more brimming culinary ideas. Two things that kept popping up in our conversation is his love for food and his insistence on creative freedom in the kitchen. We talked about his journey as a chef, sushi and what to expect at INTI: A Nikkei Experience this Valentine’s.
Was there a pivotal moment in life when you realized cooking is what you wanted to do?
The idea of cooking professionally was born immediately after my secondary school education. I was watching TV, enjoying shows like Masterchef and I loved the freedom they had when saying, ‘today I’m going to cook this’ and I wanted the same freedom to experiment on dishes. That’s when I decided to study as a chef to cook the food I wanted, simply to have that creative freedom.
Would you say your style of cooking has evolved from when you started?
Oh yes, it has. I started at a young age and my passion has seen me grow. I started with Chinese cuisine, learning and getting the discipline required to work as a chef. After this, I learned Italian cuisine, Spanish, Latin food (actually my food) and from each kitchen that I’ve passed through, I’ve learned something that has helped me grow.
What are your favourite ingredients to use?
It’s a bit odd but I really, really like potatoes. In my country, we have over 2,000 varieties of potatoes with different colours and flavours. Some potatoes work great for mash potatoes, fries and thus I tend to lean more towards potatoes.
Do you prefer sweet or savoury dishes?
Hmm… I’d say I like both. At INTI: A Nikkei Experience I try not to make meals that are too sweet because most people don’t particularly like that. In my country, people really love sweet dishes but I’ve come to appreciate both.
What’s the secret to making the perfect sushi?
Actually, doesn’t matter what food it is but there’s no secret. When you make sushi or whatever food it is, you just need to do it passionately. The people enjoying your food will feel the passion in the food. Other than that you need to make the exact flavour and the like but how do you make that? You need a passion for it.
What are some common mistakes people make when eating sushi?
The other day I saw someone who used a knife and cut a small piece of sushi. I said woah sorry but that’s not how you eat it. Perhaps it’s not comfortable taking a piece, dipping it in sauce and eating it all together but when you don’t eat like that you miss out on the explosion of flavours in your mouth.
The plating is simple and elegant. Is this your go-to plating style?
Yes, that’s my plating style. I use the Japanese technique in this restaurant when I do my plating.
Does food taste better when eaten using your hand or a fork?
As a chef, I prefer it on the hand. It might not be attractive but I love the texture of the food, aroma and taste on the hand.
Do you have a favourite dish?
As a Peruvian, I’d always go for ceviche. I have tried ceviches from different countries such as Ecuador but it’s not as great as the one from Peru. It’s where the dish is originally from.
What do you love most about working at INTI: A Nikkei Experience?
I cook some dishes how I want which means I get the creative freedom to explore.
What’s the most popular dish on the menu?
The ceviche. People love ceviche and we have around five with different flavours.
What’s new at INTI: A Nikkei Experience that people can look forward to?
After three months, we usually change some dishes. When people come asking for some dishes we tell them we don’t have that but that it’s time to try something new. We also have a special menu for Valentine’s that everyone will love.