Newly opened El Mercado - Japanese-style food from Peru
Wan Chai restaurant is small and laid-back, and has a short but intriguing menu
The latest restaurant to open at 239 Hennessy Road in Wan Chai, a building that already has Pirata, Quest by Que and Zahrabel, is El Mercado (tel: 2388 8009). The restaurant, whose name means "the market" in Spanish, didn't have its liquor licence when we visited a few days into the soft-opening phase.
This laid-back place uses Peruvian ingredients cooked in a Japanese style. The menu is limited, but all the dishes we tasted were intriguing.
A starter of free-range raw egg (HK$38) was presented on a spoon. Served warm, the egg yolk and soy sauce combination, with mini chips on top for crunchy contrast, was divine.
The subtle flavours of the macchu picchu sushi (HK$68), which had uni, lemon granita and cucumber, were overwhelmed by the pickled ginger. We liked the tart, refreshing ceviche de atun (HK$158), with chunks of tuna and sweet potato marinated in leche de tigre.
Perhaps because the ceviche was such a sour dish, the flavours of the seared tuna (HK$128) went in the opposite direction. Topped with avocado and dressed with an orange and soy sauce reduction, the tuna seemed very sweet, but was delicious nevertheless.
A hearty main course of roast suckling pig (HK$308) came in two large chunks with crispy skin and tender meat, and was accompanied with edamame-flavoured rice and two fried quail eggs.
Mango sticky rice (HK$18), presented in a sushi shape, was a light end to the meal.