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Hong Kong restaurant reviews

Restaurant review: El Mercado, Wan Chai - Japanese-Peruvian

Accommodating staff, fare with varied flavour and textures make this Wan Chai eatery a sure thing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 November, 2015, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 December, 2015, 12:19pm

Price: about HK$450 without drinks. There is no service charge.

Ambience: unassuming but comfortable, with friendly staff.

Pros: the staff are accommodating. We were initially seated in a place where people would have been continuously passing close by, so asked for another table and they moved us to a quieter spot. We asked for fresh mint tea (which wasn’t on the menu) and after consulting with the kitchen, the waitress offered it to us.

Cons: the Machu Picchu nigiri (HK$68) with sea urchin, lemon granita, pickled ginger and cucumber had rice that was too hard, and the cucumber overwhelmed the other ingredients.

Recommended dishes: the Barranco sushi (grilled flank beef with orange chimichurri, HK$68) was much better, probably because there was a higher proportion of topping, so the quality of the rice wasn’t as noticeable. Ika ceviche (H$178) had tart and vivid flavours, with leche de tigre-marinated ohnibe fish topped with soft chunks of sweet potato, which balanced the acidity, and fried calamari rings. Grilled beef heart anticucho (HK$148) with a light corn purée was delicious, with chewy, intense meat. We loved the varied flavours and textures of the cochinillo con tacu tacu (HK$308): soft meat, crisp skin, a concentrated sauce and mild, sweet and soft banana. For dessert, the jardin de rosa (HK$108) had just the right amount of rose in the ice cream, along with raspberry foam and flower petals.

What else? We didn’t notice until we left that they didn’t have a service charge – we should have left a larger tip.

El Mercado, 21/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. Tel: 2388 8009. Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm