Peru’s top chef opens first restaurant in HK

Virgilio Martinez Véliz, the celebrated Peruvian chef behind the award-winning ‘Central’ restaurant in Lima has launched ICHU Peru in Hong Kong, serving contemporary Peruvian cuisine in a modern, bistro-style setting.

Ceviche Clásico

The chef is the brain behind Latin America’s best restaurant Central, which is currently ranked No. 6 on the 2018 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The opening at H Queen’s in Central is the star chef’s first venture in Asia.

“Our intention is to replicate the atmosphere of Lima’s local cevicherias,” explained 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.”

Although the mood is relaxed and casual, the menu reflects Martinez’s sophisticated knowledge of Peruvian cuisine.

Appetisers include ‘Pargo al Rocoto’ featuring thinly-sliced snapper with celeriac, avocado and aji rocoto, and ‘Ceviche Clásico’, a punchy dish comprising snapper, choclo, red onion and sweet potato.

Signature starters include Palta Quemada, a light combination of charred avocado, aji limo, tomato and cassava, or the flavourful ‘Tartar de Lomo con Maiz’ using premium wagyu beef striploin and a combination of corn, carob molasses and scallions.

Another must-try dish is ‘Pez Amazonia’ with sea bass infused with the smoky aroma of ashen leaves.

To ensure presentation standards remain high and dishes retain their authentic flavours, Martinez has relocated resident chef Sang Jeong from his Central team to Hong Kong. The Korean-born chef has worked alongside Martinez at Central for over three years and collaborated on many of the restaurant’s signature dishes.

The drinks menu at the restaurant will be overseen by mixologist Massimo Petovello, with the goal to pair with traditional Peruvian flavours.

In keeping with ICHU’s Latin American roots, the selection includes premium spirits and wines from South American vineyards. The cocktail menu is inspired by the varying landscapes of Peru, and is divided into four sections: La Sierra, Costa de Mar, Amazonia and Costa del Desierto. The selection includes the ‘Ichu Pisco Sour’, a unique take on the classic South American cocktail with saffron and eucalyptus, and ‘El Milagro’, a combination of mescal, amaretto orgeat, amontillado and purple popcorn.

The restaurant is a collaboration between Virgilio Martinez and Bulldozer Group, a Dubai-based hospitality company. Designed by award-winning designer Joyce Wang, the space is said to reflect Peru’s changing altitudes and comprises distinct sections.

In addition, the open kitchen and dining area, the space comes with a separate bar and a spacious outdoor terrace, overlooking Pottinger and Stanley streets in Central.

During the soft-opening period, the restaurant will be open daily for dinner from 6pm- 10.30pm.

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