Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Flavor Find: World Bites Peering around the corner to discover the next global mash-up

Duck Carnitas at Narita in Boston demonstrate a blend of global touches, including mole and tomatillo salsa.

What do you get when a Turkish restaurant group opens a Japanese-inflected Latin restaurant run by an executive chef who is an alum of the José Andrés empire? Nahita in Boston. Its menu isn’t a free-for-all when it comes to marrying multiple cuisines. There’s a precision to the global mash-up here, where the pantry pulls strategically (and mostly) from Peru, Japan, Mexico and Turkey, staying true to authentic ingredients while combining them in new and intriguing ways.

For instance, the Spicy Uni Tacos are served in Oaxacan heirloom corn tortillas with guacamole and uni salsa. The Tantuni Spicy Beef Tenderloin, a traditional Turkish street food, is served with sumac onions.

“At Nahita, we strive to celebrate global cuisines authentically,” says Efe Onoglu, executive chef. “Rather than thinking about ‘fusion,’ we spotlight varied flavors as they have traditionally appeared, whether that’s in dishes that speak to their countries of origin or dishes taken from traditions that have resulted as part of cultural exchange and migration.” Peru has a large Japanese population, and that melding of cultures has resulted in a wonderful culinary fusion called Nikkei.

At Nahita, that manifests in sublime dishes like tiradito, Peru’s take on sashimi, with offerings like Wild Salmon & Roe Tiradito with puffed quinoa, aji amarillo and aji rocoto. Nikkei also informs further melding of food cultures for Onoglu. He goes broader, incorporating Mexican classics like elote and tacos into the menu mix. Nahita’s Elote is a showstopper, starring baby corn, Cotija cheese and lime aïoli.

Nahita represents emerging opportunities in the global flavor front. Although great success stems from a New American approach, where endlessly creative mash-ups combine Indian with Southern, Mexican with American tavern, and so on, there’s also still room to explore truly international mash-ups. Nahita demonstrates that perfectly.


Drew Katz

Baby corn, Cotija cheese and lime aïoli combine beautifully in Nahita’s shareable Elote dish.

From the November-December issue of Flavor & the Menu magazine. Read this issue online or check if you qualify for a free print subscription.


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