Tag Archives: Yuki Nakandakari

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.

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