New restaurants in Hong Kong: Ichu Peru, for memorable South American cuisine
The first restaurant opened in Asia by chef Virgilio Martinez of Central in Lima, Peru, 6th on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Ichu Peru more than lives up to expectations
Ichu Peru has been one of the most anticipated openings of the year, and the buzz about it only intensified with the numerous delays that held up its launch. The restaurant in H Queen’s, Central is the only one in Asia by chef Virgilio Martinez of Central in Lima, Peru, which is sixth on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
I had visited the restaurant a few weeks before the opening, when Martinez was in Hong Kong – back then, the space had only one table. There was no point in masking my identity on review night, because I’d met most of the staff, including chef Sang Jeong. The restaurant was full when we visited, and we were seated at a comfortable, if rather dimly lit booth.
We ordered some raw dishes from the ceviche and tiradito sections. Pargo al rocoto (HK$160) – slices of snapper with thin ribbons of celeriac, small blobs of avocado purée and a sauce of aji rocoto chillies – was light, tart and refreshing, but even better was the pez limon (HK$180).
The yellowtail ceviche, topped with crisp slices of fried sweet potato and large kernels of choclo (a starchy variety of corn), came with a yuzu vinaigrette that was so vivid, tangy and delicious that my guest asked for small cups of it, so we could drink it. She then asked for more (although I declined). Lomo de res – beef tenderloin with aji amarillo and escabeche (HK$180) had tender meat with a rich flavour.
Quinoa is inextricably associated with Peru (although the seed is also grown elsewhere) and we could not eat at Ichu Peru without trying their version. The quinoa with greens, goat cheese and ginger sofrito (HK$140) is a beautiful dish. The seeds were dyed bright green and pink, garnished with lavender flowers, then spread over creamy goat cheese.
The mains we ordered were excellent. The beef short rib with seco sauce and coriander (HK$360) was downright ugly (one guest described it as “elephant dung”) but we enjoyed it anyway. The rich sauce – a dark off-green from puréed coriander thickly coated the tender, sticky meat.
A perfectly cooked sea bass (HK$420) – head and tail intact, but missing its bones – came partially wrapped in a lightly charred banana leaf, and topped with tomatoes, choclo kernels and a tangy tamarillo sauce. We could not stop eating the side dish of sweet potatoes with chalaca tartar (HK$70), which were hot, sweet and crisp.
Desserts were creative and delicious. Maiz caramel (HK$90) – corn ice cream, pineapple foam and caramel corn – was a lovely mix of textures and temperatures. Tres leches (HK$90) – a traditional airy sponge cake soaked in fresh milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk – came topped with carrot sorbet, and was garnished with thin sheets of delicately crisp meringue.
Ichu Peru, 3/F H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, tel: 2477 7717. About HK$650 per person without drinks. There’s no service charge.
While you’re in the area: