Cariño Nikkei is a Peruvian Japanese Fusion restaurant in the nightlife area of Chiaia in Napoli. It is a truly tiny restaurant with only few seats inside and even less outdoor tables. They offer lunch and dinner menus that differ substantially and cater to the trendy crowd of the neighbourhood. On weekends reservations are in order for dinner, otherwise it is not hard to get a free spot if you come early.
Dinner a la Carte
I went there for an early dinner on a Saturday and got a nice table outside that they set up just for me as all other seats were already taken or reserved. The menu ist not that extensive and covers the usual basics of a restaurant of this kind. The Peruvian twist is apparent but not dominant and mostly focusses on sauces and other accents for the traditional sushi selection.
The meal started with a tara (codfish) gyoza tempura (fried dumplings) that were quite nice, but not outstanding. Codfish is a very common fish in Napoli, which made the dish rather Neapolitan than Peruvian. Afterwards I samples the Victor Roll of the specialties menu, which was a sake (salmon), suzuki (sea bass), hirnmasse (amber jack) uramaki (inside out roll) with red ebi (shrimp) topping. The shrimps were advertised as coming from Mazara in Sicily and were in fact outstanding. The roll was nice but the distinct taste of the individual fish got lost in the mix.
As a final plate I tried the premium nigiri selection, which in fact was more a plate of classical items rather than anything special. It cake with sake (salmon), suzuki (sea bass), maguro (tuna back), ebi (shrimp), tai (sea bream) and sake yaki (grilled salmon) nigiri. The salmon was of good quality and also the tai was nice with the mango sauce they served it with. The ebi was not the same type from Mazara and therefore a bit disappointing. Same goes for the tuna which is usually nothing special in Napoli’s sushi restaurants. On the plus side, the plate looked very nice, much better then it was from a culinary perspective however.
Sushi Guide Verdict
Cariño Nikkei is tiny but stylish sushi restaurant that offers a nice vibe on a square with many other restaurants and bars. If you like being in a hectic and compressed place, it could rank among a cool place to hang out. However, it doesn’t invite for a romantic or quiet dinner. The menu options are quite nice, but do not extend beyond very typical fish to choose from. Rarities are not available. The quality and taste of the fish is average and nothing special apart from the Mazara shrimp, which is outstanding. However, many Japanese restaurants around serve excellent shrimp. The drink menu is simple but fitting for the setting of the restaurant. The service team at Cariño Nikkei was friendly and forthcoming, but since the place is rather busy, they didn’t create a very personal atmosphere. Considering the rather high price point of the restaurant, I would recommend it for small snacks or lunch, but an extensive dinner will be quite expensive and not worth the money compared to other options around.
Review date: June 22, 2019