An interesting mix: tasty Peruvian-Japanese cuisine at El Mercado
21/f, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2388 8009
We loved El Mercado, from the casual vibe to the friendly service and especially for the tasty Peruvian-Japanese cuisine. Nobu arguably was the first to introduce to the world this unlikely fusion of Peruvian ingredients for Japanese-style dishes, which was inspired by Japanese immigrants in Peru, but El Mercado is making the genre more affordable.
The menu was devised by restaurateur Bart Szyniec, previously of Aqua Group, and Peruvian chef Jose Manuel Sabrera Meza. The ingredients are fresh. My favourite dish of the night was the ika ceviche (HK$178) with ohnibe fish, leche de tigre (a Peruvian citrus marinade), sweet potato and crispy calamari topped with seaweed - the sour, citrus and chilli flavours blended refreshingly well with the soft textures of the fish and sweet potatoes; it almost did not need the added crispiness of the calamari and seaweed.
The nigiri del Amazonas (HK$68) is a sushi of seared flanked beef. Banana confit with quail egg was another hit with succulent beef and a hint of banana blending perfectly. The cochinillo con tacu tacu (HK$308) - suckling pig with rice and beans - is a must-try. To end, we tried the home-made rose ice cream, with milk, basil and raspberries (HK$108), made for sharing as most of the dishes are here. Cocktails and wines are also available.