Meet Diego Oka, the Man Who Works Magic at the Mandarin Oriental’s La Mar

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami has magnificent options to satisfy your food-beverage-entertainment needs. Most recently, La Mar by Gaston Acurio opened up its doors and has been a tremendous success ever since. Meet Chef Diego Oka, the genius in the kitchen; the man who is responsible for this haute dining option in the Downtown Miami area.

Diego_Oka_-_Michael_Pisarri_low_resWhat is the most popular dish so far?
Our cebiches (spelled ‘cebiche, not ‘ceviche’) are the most popular dishes so far—we have six different types on the menu, giving our guests something new to try each visit. Another top seller is our Whole Fish Nikei made with yellowtail snapper and Peruvian-Japanese spicy sauce with bok choy. It’s a great example of the Japanese influences on Peruvian cuisine and a fun dish to share with the table.

What spices you can you not live without?
I personally love nutmeg, but in Peruvian cuisine we don’t use it much. At La Mar we use many types of Peruvian chilies as our spices.

What is your favorite music to listen to when on your way to work to prep you for a long eve in the kitchen?
Indie / Electronic

What is the most random request you have ever received from a restaurant goer?
To cook the cebiche on the grill and then serve it to him.

Will you be changing the menu seasonally? Or it’s here to stay?
At La Mar we have signature staples that will always remain on the menu, such as our cebiche clasico or  chaufa aeropuerto, however we will constantly put fresh new dishes on the menu, as well as create weekly specials.

Being new to South Florida, what is your favorite restaurant in Miami as of late?
I have few favorites depending on my mood, but one restaurant I visit often is Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Everything is fantastic—the ambience, service, food…