Chef Yuki Nakandakari Takes Over Kitchen at Ocopa

15 Feb
Chef Yuki Nakandakari at Ocopa on H Street

Chef Yuki Nakandakari at Ocopa on H Street

Yuki Nakandakari took over the kitchen at Ocopa (1324 H Street) back in early December of last year.  Now that he has been in charge for a little over two months, District Cuisine stopped by to chat with the chef about his background, Ocopa, and what he sees as the future of the restaurant.

District Cuisine: What was your background prior to starting at Ocopa?

Yuki Nakandakari: My culinary career began in 1991 as a dishwasher at a concept in Tokyo.  Over the years, I have risen up through the ranks to become a head chef.  Prior to Ocopa, I was head chef at Pisco in Baltimore.

DC: What do you think about the H Street neighborhood?

YN: Cooking in DC is great because the District really is the big leagues of cuisine.  I like the H Street neighborhood, it reminds me of the neighborhood in Lima where I grew up.

Patio at Ocopa

Patio at Ocopa

DC: What are the most important elements of Peruvian food in your mind?

YN: Peruvian food is very interesting and diverse because you have people from all over the world who came to Peru and left their influence.  In the olden days, you had the Incas and the Conquistadors, and those influences and flavors from all over the world continued throughout history.  Peruvian food takes a little bit of all of those influences and combines them to create its own unique flavors.

DC: What is your vision for Ocopa going forward?

YN: One of our focuses right now is on lunch.  We recently launched it and are working on perfecting it.  Our pollo a la brasa (Peruvian roasted chicken) is really great and a main feature at lunch.  It comes with a fantastic chimichurri sauce that is made in house.  Even though lunch is new for us, we’ve gotten some great feedback so far.

We’re also working on becoming more health focused.  You’ll see some new and interesting grains and vegetables on our menu now and in the future.  Whenever possible, our products are local and organic.  For example, we source our lamb shanks from a local butcher.


DC: Any special events or new features on the horizon?

YN: We’re launching an anticucho menu that will be available for dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  It’s a fun and casual feature of various grilled items that will range from $2-7.  The menu will be divided up into a land, sea, and garden section for each major category.

In the summer, I’m also looking to featuring Peruvian and Nikkei sushi.  This sushi will be a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese flavors that is slightly different from the standard sushi that you are used to.

DC: When you are cooking for yourself at home, what do you make?

YN: I love making ceviche–I love the most traditional type and make it with lots of spice.

Ocopa is open for lunch and dinner and will soon be launching brunch service as well.



4 Responses to “Chef Yuki Nakandakari Takes Over Kitchen at Ocopa”

  1. NorthEazy February 18, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

    What happened to the previous chef? Wasn’t he also the owner?


  1. Ocopa Hosting Winter Grill Out This Saturday | District Cuisine - February 18, 2016

    […] opportunity to check out the food of new Chef Yuki Nakandakari (check out our interview with him here) and to check out Ocopa’s patio if you haven’t seen it before.  You can buy tickets […]

  2. Ocopa Launching Saturday Brunch This Weekend | District Cuisine - March 2, 2016

    […] Ocopa’s new chef Yuki Nakandakari (if you missed our recent interview with Yuki, check it out here).  Check out the menu below (click on the image below to make it […]

  3. Menu for Lunch at Ocopa | District Cuisine - March 16, 2016

    […] Several weeks ago Ocopa (1324 H Street) launched lunch with a brand new menu.  Ocopa’s lunch menu is designed to be healthy and affordable.  If you missed our interview with Ocopa’s new chef from a few weeks ago, check it out here. […]

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