Niki Nakayama

Headlining Chef

For Niki Nakayama, the art of cooking all comes down to feeling. Always one to follow her intuition, Nakayama’s instincts guide her path as a chef, and it continues to be the driving force behind every dish she creates. At n/naka, her highly acclaimed restaurant in West Los Angeles, Nakayama secures her place among the…

For Niki Nakayama, the art of cooking all comes down to feeling. Always one to follow her intuition, Nakayama’s instincts guide her path as a chef, and it continues to be the driving force behind every dish she creates. At n/naka, her highly acclaimed restaurant in West Los Angeles, Nakayama secures her place among the foremost chefs in the world of modern kaiseki—a traditional Japanese dining discipline based in gratitude and appreciation that balances taste, texture, and presentation through a progression of dishes served in a meticulous, thoughtfully curated order. For Nakayama, the kaiseki philosophy allows her to show a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature, with the purpose of, “highlighting natural flavors, presenting them in their purest way without over-complication, and serving them how they were meant to be in their peak season.”

Today, n/naka serves as a global destination for modern kaiseki with a California twist, at which Nakayama serves world-class, artfully curated, and exquisite dishes in a progression designed to reflect the mood of season, time, and place. One of the toughest reservations to get in L.A., n/naka’s books typically fill up three months out, a testament to Nakayama’s resonance in the international culinary world. Critics also take note—the restaurant has appeared on Jonathan Gold’s “101 Best Restaurants” every year since opening in 2013, and continues to catch the attention of media including T Magazine (The New York Times), Eater, Vogue.com, and many more.
Nakayama’s devotion to sustainability also plays out at n/naka, with currently 70% of its ingredients sourced locally—a rarity in Japanese fine dining. At 2017’s Food on Edge symposium in Galway, Ireland, she explained how the pillars of kaiseki, to integrate your surroundings into the cuisine, find harmony with these sustainability initiatives.

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