After working under esteemed chefs Takao Izumida & Morihiro Onodera, Nakayama set out on a 3-year work study in Japan, where she discovered her love for the country’s traditional and cutting-edge cuisines. After returning to her home in Los Angeles, she opened Azami Sushi Cafe, an all-female ran establishment, awarded several ‘Best of’ Awards by Zagat, the L.A. Time, and Citysearch.

Eleven years later, after the closing of Azami and the opening of a second venture, Inaka, Nakayama, opened n/naka. The restaurant quickly became one of the hottest spots in L.A., drawing in curious diners with a ‘new-to-America’ culinary art form, kaiseki. This art form focuses on unprocessed ingredients that check all the boxes: fresh, sustainable, seasonal, local, balanced. Nakayama and her wife, Carole Iida-Nakayama, are the only known females to own and run the kitchen of a kaiseki-dedicated restaurant. This alone is extraordinary, but what sets them above the rest is their belief in omotenashi, which is, the value of guest experiences above all else. This principle, no doubt, is what makes n/naka one of the hardest restaurants in the country to get a seat at, being booked out months in advance.

Niki Nakayama, is one of the culinary world’s leading innovators, pushing the boundaries of tradition, and creating realities for women unimagined for generations in Japanese cooking. Her passion, process, and power are inspiring, and for this, we thank you, Niki!

Follow Niki and n/naka on: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Sources:
The Advocate
n-naka.com
the-talks.com
Image via Frank Terry for Darling Issue 20

Contact Us

4944 Old Boonsboro Rd.
Lynchburg,VA 24503
434.384.3663

Want to talk Business?
partner@merig.com

Human Resources
hr@merig.com

Testimonials

Testimonials

The food is just incredible! I really mean it…I hope you know that I am not just saying this. It’s so colorful, fresh, and delicious…so special every day!”

Faculty Member 
Faculty Member

Just a note to say thank you for all of the delicious food you and your staff serve each day. I never knew kale could taste so good!

Administrator 
Administrator

Outstanding food, outstanding service, outstanding people. I brag about MG to my peers at other schools, and even to my friends and family!

Administrator 
Administrator

Thank you so much for all the gluten-free options this year! All of your staff have been so helpful. They make a point to come up to me at meals and let me know what options you have for that meal. Salads are great, but sometimes a warm meal is just what you need!

Faculty Member 
Faculty Member

Thanks for all of the good work you and your team did to ensure that last night’s welcome gathering for new faculty went off without a hitch. I’m so grateful for Team MG working so hard to make sure things are done the right way.

Head of School 
Head of School

It’s an understatement to say we were surprised by the excellent quality of the food. We could not recall having a better tuna dish, even at the four-star resturants we frequent in Raleigh. Duke Integrative is a special place.

Guest 
Guest

Many times I find a favorite thing out of the many items served during lunch, and although the featured spinach and fruit salad was visually stunning; the SHOUT OUT winner of the day hands down was the very delicious unassuming Vegetarian Pinto Beans!!! The onions were glistening and the peppers served as a complimentary color to the two different shades of beans…I have one regret and that is I didn’t think to take a picture!

Administrator 
Administrator

Thank you for making pimento cheese today! It not only is divine, but also hit the spot. I now regret wasting 62.5 years of life on this planet in which I did not eat this heavenly mix. As I explore different recipes in my home kitchen I will try my best to live up to the standard demonstrated by what I had today.

Faculty Member 
Faculty Member

Everything was wonderful…as usual! The food was scrumptious…and the weather was gorgeous!

Conference Client 
Conference Client

I would not change a thing! Your staff was not only professional, but warm and caring. They truly set the tone for a memorable night. The food was delicious…our family and friends left with hearts and bellies full!

Catering Client 
Catering Client

I just wanted to thank you so much for all the delicious food at Duke. Your food was such a happy and positive experience and it made the days there so much more enjoyable to eat healthy, but tasty, great food.

Client 
Client

Thanks for the delicious soup and the new harvest salad – and thanks for removing half the calories out of the Farm Basket brownie…haha.

Resident 
Resident

THANK YOU for your help today with the open house! Our visiting families raved about the personalized environment. We had a student tell us that Guilford went from his 3rd to 1st choice!

Administrator 
Administrator

Thank you for all of your hard work on the meals and breaks for the Alumnae Board. The food was outstanding; everyone raved about each meal. Favorites included the grits on Saturday morning and the butternut squash soup on Sunday. YUM!!!

Administrator 
Administrator

The amazing characteristic is that, on a day by day basis, you give us nutritious, varied, interesting, delicious food…not just something special for company. Please know how much you are appreciated and loved by this community.

Conference Administrator 
Conference Administrator