Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, chef Niki Nakayama began her career at the renowned Takao restaurant in Brentwood, working under the guidance of esteemed chefs Takao Izumida and Morihiro Onodera. Committed to exploring new techniques, Niki embarked on a three-year working tour throughout Japan, sampling her way through different regional flavors and immersing herself in the essentials of Japanese cuisine, both traditional and cutting-edge. While working at Shirakawa-Ya Ryokan, (Japanese inn owned by relatives) Niki trained under chef Masa Sato in the art of kaiseki the traditional Japanese culinary practice that emphasizes the balance and seasonality of a dish.
Upon her return to Los Angeles, Niki opened her first restaurant - Azami Sushi Cafe, which quickly became known for Niki's popular omakase menu. Azami was an immediate LA staple, touted by Zagat and the Los Angeles Times in addition to earning Citysearch's "Best of Sushi" distinction in 2006.
Inaka, Niki's ambitious second venture, functioned as a gourmet Japanese take-out by day and an intimate eight-course chef's table by night. Focusing on tasting menus allowed Niki to do what she enjoys - and thrives in - most: creating a thoughtful and cohesive series of dishes that provides a personal experience for each diner.
n/naka has been ten years in the making and is the expansion of Niki's previous endeavors, applying the artistic and technical notions of kaiseki to create an ever-evolving seasonal narrative within each meal.