Chicama London: Innovative Peruvian Cuisine in Chelsea
Stepping inside Chicama’s bright and contemporary-rustic restaurant evokes an atmosphere one might hope to find in a relaxed and refined South American eatery. Seizing much of its inspiration from the coastal cuisine of Peru with a sole spotlight on their fresh seafood alongside fabulous vegetable dishes, the dynamic flavours and style of presentation of the native land are embedded into each dish with real soul and exciting flair. This elegantly understated and chic spot is situated along the famed King’s Road of Chelsea and just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge of the River Thames too. Chicama is also a sister restaurant to the much-loved Pachamama restaurants in Marylebone and Shoreditch. We stop by Chicama to try the most well-loved dishes.
Pastel blue walls stand adjacent to terracotta-sea-pink tiles and against gorgeous dark wooden upholstery creating an inviting and warm rustic atmosphere that is elevated with marble accents and brasserie-style tables, reflecting the Chelsea neighbourhood’s penchant for simple, contemporary glamour. On this particularly gorgeous day that we visited, the vibe in the establishment felt so relaxed and casually upbeat, there was a freshness emphasised in the very heart of their restaurant’s concept, further reflected in every aspect of Chicama, from the lovely contemporary folk and soft rock we heard playing to the inclusion of vine plants framing the walls and around the ceiling brass wine racks and big, lush and leafy potted plants placed around their outdoor seating area.
We were welcomed with friendly and charming service from their affable team who led us to our little table out in their outdoor seating area which was a surprisingly stylish and lovely little terrace space, a wonderful way to have turned the corner of a pavement into an enticing quarter to for alfresco dining and socialising. We were given two deliciously refreshing Pisco Sours to get the ball rolling on our lunch under the sun which we sipped on excitedly as we awaited our first small dish:
A plate of Popped Corn Monkfish Cheeks and Tapioca Marshmallow.
The Monkfish Cheeks with Popcorn was presented in a pair with generous dollops of Ají Amarillo Mayo in the centre and topped with shichimi powder yielding a crunchy texture that also gave an excellent tangy taste.
The Tapioca Marshmallow with Ocopa Sauce was satisfying and soft but not a sticky texture as one can expect from Cassava that is fried lightly. This Ocopa sauce was smooth and made with mint and coriander puree and complimented the chilli jam that was smeared onto the Tapioca Marshmallows working together as a bold and pleasing combination of spicy and punchy vs. refreshing and soothing.
The Sea Bass Ceviche was the dish we were admittedly the most excited for, as Peruvian cuisine is most famed for their delicate and dynamic dish of a fresh ceviche creation and if my memory served well, the ceviche I had tried at their sister restaurant years ago blew me out of the water. And I’m pleased to report that they certainly did not disappoint and outdid my expectations. Presented in a simple ceramic dish that highlighted the saucy and almost soupy-like dish that resembled something similar to a Japanese Miso Soup, particularly with the addition of Wakame Seaweed and Sesame Seeds in the Tiger’s Milk. Even the taste evoked savoury and appetizing Japanese flavours in the dish which are heightened by the sprinkling of coriander and chilli. The deliciously light raw Sea Bass in tandem with these delectable umami flavours make this ceviche an exquisite must-have summer plate to try.
Moving on to our first larger vegetable dish, Crispy Aubergine with Plantain Miso and Pecans. Hands down, this Aubergine won the entire lunch experience for both myself and my partner, it was the main sensation that we didn’t even know we needed, and I only wish I could’ve had more of it. Everything about this dish blended together so smoothly and perfectly from the creamy crunch in the texture of the Aubergine mimicking the texture of fried banana to the sweet and sumptuous taste of the Plantain Miso sauce working in wonderful opposition to the sour cream. The sprinkling of the pecans lent a pleasing crunch to each bite and as a final note in this ode of a paragraph to the Crispy Aubergine. It was a real delight to taste something so original, unique and astonishingly delicious and its dishes like these remind us of the raw talent, creativity and finesse of food that goes into these creations from the invisible and hidden kitchen.
The Tuna Tostada with Avocado Jalapeño Sauce, Fried Leeks, Lime & Radish
was yet another welcome fish dish that we were eagerly expecting as another iconic Peruvian concoction to try. With the ingredients served up and arranged within crispy tortilla shells, each crunchy bite of delectable tuna and zesty, refreshing avocado and jalapeño sauce is a burst of gorgeous savoury, summery flavours. The vibrant red, green and golden colours in its presentation make it also quite an aesthetically pleasing dish to have.
Our main fish course, Whole Seabass with Black Rice and Chakalaka reminded me of a heartwarming home-cooked dish of pure domestic goodness hand-packed and sent to me from a nostalgic blast from the past. I could not remember the last time I experienced the simple pleasure of eating a simple fried fish with no frills or distractions – just perfectly flaky white fish meat cooked and drizzled over in oil. Even the sight of it excited me in the way my 10-year-old self would be at the sight of that stunning and simple fish on a plate making its way to the dining table. The side dish of Black Rice and Chakalaka cooked in squid ink, soy sauce, chilli, ginger, garlic, yuzu and some sake made for a flawless, zesty and bold rice accompaniment that highlighted the freshness of our Bass.
Finally to conclude our lunch we managed to get our forks into the
Banana & Yuzu Ice Cream with Torched Meringue and Coconut.
This dessert was certainly a treat for the eyes as well as the tastebuds as it looked unbelievably tantalising just from its presentation with caramel sauce drizzled over the rugby-ball scoops of ice cream, banana slices and glimpses of the excellent browning on the torched meringues. The Ice Cream, particularly the Yuzu flavour, was refreshing, sweet and tangy and the meringue in contrast provided a great texture to go with, not to mention the crumbling crunch of the coconut bits.
Chicama promises to be the ideal location for any group of diners to hit up for addictively yummy Pisco Sours, some small sharing plates of bold and delicious seafood and wonderful, innovative creations that are on a mission to seriously impress you. Keep in mind that whilst you get to enjoy all their platos ricos, your comfort and relaxation is at the heart of their restaurant experience. Be sure to look forward to a lovely, casual and upbeat affair with food that absolutely encapsulates the sentiment of ‘quality over quantity’.
383 King's Rd, London SW10 0LP, United Kingdom, chicamalondon.com