It's hard to beat the sheer number and quality of top restaurants in Hong Kong. Not only does Hong Kong already have its fair share of home-grown stars, it also attracts chefs from many of the most exclusive restaurants around the world.
One recent opening comes from Peru.
Chef Virgilio Martinez, head chef behind Central in Lima, Peru, has opened his first restaurant in Asia right in Hong Kong's Central neighborhood in Queen's Road Central. This past year, Central in Peru was named the 6th restaurant in the world by World's 5 Best Restaurants. Now Chef Martinez has sent Chef Sang Jeong, a chef who worked closely with Chef Martinez at Central in Lima for three years, to oversee the restaurant in Hong Kong.
“Our intention is to replicate the atmosphere of Lima’s local cevicherias,” explains Martinez. “We want to honour Peru’s no-fuss dining culture where the atmosphere is relaxed, the dishes are shared and the recipes highlight fresh ingredients and traditional flavours.”
ICHU is named after a plant found in Altiplano that was once a material used to build bridges by the Incas. The plant is hardy and grows in extreme conditions.
Award-winning mixologist Massimo Petovello oversees the cocktail program, which makes use of interesting ingredients in creative ways. For example, I tried the Camuflaje, a refreshing cocktail made with gin, cucumber, lime and seaweed.
The menu is divided into multiple sections, including a page of tiraditos and ceviches, starters, salads and vegetables, meat, fish and seafood, side dishes, and desserts.
Tiradito is defined as anything that is "thin sliced and raw." We tasted Pargo al Rocoto (HKD160), thinly sliced snapper topped with shaved celeriac, asparagus and served over a pungent spicy sauce made from aji rocoto, a type of Peruvian chili pepper.
Ceviche is anything served with "tiger's milk", the juice that comes from a good marinated ceviche, including essence of seafood together with citrus and herbs. We tried Pez Limon [HKD180], a beautiful cold dish comprised of fresh raw yellowtail and corn tossed with a yuzu vinaigrette and topped with fried crisps (one of my favorites!).
The menu has a small section of starters, salads, and vegetables made using all sorts of Peruvian ingredients.
Palta Quemada [HKD100] is a whole charred avocado filled with a sauce made of ají limo (a very hot Peruvian chili!) and tomato (tones down the heat!). The sauce definitely had some kick, but was quite manageable!
Tartar de Lomo con Maiz [HKD140] is a tartar of finely minced filet mignon served with a corn and carob molasses sauce topped with chives.
MAR - Fish and Seafood
Pez Amazonia [HKD420] is a signature dish that is consists of sea bass, tamarillo (a Perivian tree tomato), and Peruvian corn cooked inside of ashed leaves, which infuse smoky flavors into the fish. The dish was light and enjoyable, and I especially loved eating the big Peruvian corn.
Tacutacu Chupe [HKD180] is tiger prawns and Peruvian beans served in an aji panca (a type of pepper) sauce.
TIERRA - Meats
Costillas de Res [HKD360] was beef short ribs served with a green seco sauce, a Peruvian "pesto" of sorts made with coriander/cilantro. I was extremely impressed with the meat, which was fall-off-the-bone soft and delicious with the flavorful sauce.
ACOMPANAMIENTOS (Sides Dishes)
Camote Crocante [HKD70] These simple (yet still fancy) purple sweet potato "fries" were delicious and came served with a chalaca tartar and grilled lime.
The served told us this dessert was his favorite. Queso de Carbra is a cheesecake made with goat cheese topped with raspberry sorbet and quinoa. It was pretty light and didn't taste too strongly of goat cheese. It was pleasant, though it didn't necessarily blow me away.
I preferred the creative Tres Leches served with carrot sorbet and vanilla meringue pieces. Tres leches literally means "three milks" and it's a cake that's soaked in three different types of milk. I really enjoyed how all the different components of this dish came together.
General Thoughts - ICHU Peruvian Hong Kong
I love Peruvian food and I was lamenting the fact that Hong Kong did not have a lot of Peruvian restaurants. I was thrilled when I found out that the chef at Central was actually opening up something here in Hong Kong. Overall I really enjoyed the food at ICHU. It's a welcomed change of pace from the many European and Asian restaurants in Hong Kong. Great cocktails, flavorful ceviches and tiraditos, and nice entrees. The prices are on the higher side and the portion sizes aren't huge, so expect to spend HKD400 to HKD800 per person.
They have a pretty extensive wine list and also offer BYOB for a corkage fee of $350 per 750ml bottle. The restaurant has a separate bar for casual dining, a chef's table for private dining, and a sizeable outdoor terrace. The restaurant has wifi and accepts credit card payment.
ICHU Peruvian Hong Kong
3/F H Queen’s
80 Queen’s Road, Central
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine here and I did not pay for my meal. I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own.
This is the eighth post in the updated #50Postsin50Days - Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.