Sazae, potato, konbu foam, caviar

Niki Nakayama is a chef and the owner of n/naka restaurant in Los Angeles. She specializes in modern Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Nakayama was born in Los Angeles and was introduced to the finer details of this cuisine as a child by her Japanese parents. When she finished her culinary education she decided to travel through Japan where she worked in different restaurants. Here she expanded her knowledge about the essence of Japanese cuisine. When she returned to the United States, she opened her own sushi restaurant employing only female kitchen staff. She eventually opened n/naka in Los Angeles where she works with her partner and sous-chef Carole.

At n/naka Nakayama serves a multi-course Japanese menu called kaiseki which prides itself on seasonal products. The best preparation methods are applied to each ingredient. Nakayama also uses several herbs and vegetables from her own garden. In her thirteen-course menu she varies with techniques: a raw dish will be followed by a grilled dish, then a steamed dish, and then a deep-fried dish for example. She also alternates between light and heavy dishes. Nakayama is often faced with prejudice as a female chef. She even had a customer walk out of her restaurant after seeing a female chef. He believed that a Japanese restaurant with a female chef could never be any good. Because of this type of prejudice, Nakayama decided to work in a closed kitchen, so that her guests focus on the food instead on the person preparing it.

Creation by Niki Nakayama, n/naka restaurant, Los Angeles. 

Sazae, potato, konbu foam, caviar

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crème fraîche



potatoes, Russet Burbank



dashi stock












sazae (alive)









soya sauce




2x2 inch


piece of konbu



sazae broth



soy lecithin

Preparation method: sazae
  • Wash the sazae shells quickly in cold water.
  • Place all the ingredients into a pot and gently place the sazae inside, making sure the water covers the sazae. Place on medium-low heat and gently simmer for one hour.
  • Test the doneness; if the sazae is still hard simmer for a further 30 minutes. Let the sazae seep in the broth overnight.
  • Remove the sazae from the broth. Using a skewer or thin chopstick pull the meat out of the shell but be careful to keep the sazae and its liver intact.
  • Using a small knife remove the liver and cut the sazae lengthwise removing the red innards. Use a paper towel to wipe the sazae clean. Thinly slice the sazae. Set aside.
  • Strain the braising liquid through a cheese cloth. The braising liquid should be clean, slightly sweet, and salty.
  • Reserve the broth for the konbu foam.
Preparation method: konbu foam
  • Measure out 250ml of the sazae broth. Weigh it on a scale in grams and add 0.56 per cent of that weight in soy lecithin to create the foam.
Preparation method: creamy potatoes
  • Peel and cook the potatoes. Place the potatoes into a blender and slowly add dashi stock and cream to create a smooth liquid consistency.
  • Adjust the seasoning keeping in mind the balance when paired with the konbu foam.
Finishing and presentation
  • Gently warm the sazae in unseasoned dashi broth with a knob of butter.
  • Spoon the creamy potatoes into the cleaned sazae shell and add a tablespoon of the sliced sazae.
  • Foam up the reserved sazae broth with added soy lecithin and add a spoonful to cover the opening of the shell.
  • Serve with a spoon of caviar and crème fraîche.

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