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The story of Sushi Nikkei is the story of not just one individual but of many: People brought to a space that wasn’t their own and learning acceptance—and it is why the Michelin-recognized food of Sushi Nikkei is such an important cog of the Long Beach food scene, particularly when it comes to celebrating the first anniversary of its second location in Belmont Shore.

And whether they score the continual crowds they get at their original location in Bixby Knolls or not, they will continue to push for success in the Shore—because their representation of Nikkei cuisine from Peru throughout the city, and not just one neighborhood, is what makes our growing food scene so compelling.

When it comes to Sushi Nikkei, there still remains confusion over what, precisely, “Peruvian sushi” means—and to begin, it must be emphasized that this is not fusion food but a direct product of Japanese culture flourishing in Peru.

“Sushi is as Peruvian as it is Japanese,” Daiwa told me when we first met. “They are intertwined with the spirit of the Nikkei.”

“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.

The Nikkei of Peru are no exception—and through ups and downs, turmoil and struggle across a century-plus of existence in Peru, they’ve become an essential aspect of Peruvian culture itself. Chef Mitsuharu “Micha” Tsumura’s Maido restaurant in Lima—one of the leading pillars of Nikkei cuisine—sits at #6 on the 2023 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, where Peru takes not only the #1 spot with Central, but also takes #27 with Kjolle and #47 with Mayta.

To have such representation in Long Beach in a place that has expanded into two locations is not just an honor but something worthy of highlight—and something we should be supporting.

Photos and written by Brian Addison.

For Brian Addison's full profile on Sushi Nikkei, click here.

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