Siblings Nino and Irakli launched WAKA in 2017, a fast food concept based on Nikkei cuisine offering freshly made sushi, hot bowls, and bento. Having grown up within many different cultures, opening a fusion food restaurant was natural for them.
Can you explain what Nikkei cuisine is?
In the 1800’s rumours started spreading in Japan of a faraway land called Peru, full of promise and gold. Settlers from Japan – known as Nikkei – travelled there and began adapting their home cuisine to use the local ingredients available. This new style of fusion food would be known as Nikkei cuisine.
How did Waka get started?
We felt that there was the gap in the market and wanted to offer something new and interesting to office workers, whose lunch options may otherwise have been repetitive.
“Japanese minimalism and harmony mix with the fire and playfulness of Peru”
What’s behind the name ‘Waka’?
WAKA is a word that holds meaning in both languages. In Japanese WAKA means “poem”, standing for creativity. In the language of Ancient Incas in Peru, it means “something sacred”, standing for value.
You were raised in Russia by Georgian parents, and now live in the UK. How does your background inform your approach to food?
We understand that food has no boundaries and is made to bring people together, therefore bringing happiness.
What makes Japanese-Peruvian fusion work so well?
Japanese minimalism & harmony mixed with the fire & playfulness of Peru create a surprising and delicious experience for your taste buds.
Your vegan sushi set is very unique – how did you go about developing it?
We have a magic box where customers can leave us messages and we started receiving little notes about vegan sushi. That’s why we decided to offer something more fun than just vegetable sushi that vegans could enjoy, and that was closer to what real sushi tastes like.