Ichu Peru is Virgilio Martinez’s Ode to Contemporary Peruvian Fare

Peruvian cuisine may be a niche in Hong Kong, but it’s starting to gain traction—and thankfully so. The South American dishes are unique and diverse, praised for its abundance of natural ingredients, which include over 60 types of corn and 3,000 varieties of potato, to name a few. Nestled within Central’s upscale H Queen’s building, Ichu Peru is Chef’s Table Virgilio Martinez’s venture into Hong Kong, with a menu based entirely on what can be grown in the Andean landscape, for an innovative flavour from high altitudes, unknown to local diners. We head to the Peruvian restaurant to try the weekend brunch menu, which included sharing platters and meaty mains.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Ichu is named after the plant found in the Peruvian Andes—one which only sustains through extreme conditions. The inspirational ingredient is the pillar for Martinez’s passion for culinary challenges and indigenous ingredients, while the stunning interiors by Joyce Wang capture quirky elements of Peru in an atmospheric, casual ambiance which instantly transports you away from the city and into the mountains of Peru.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Decked in rich Peruvian-inspired textures and materials which are lesser-known to Hong Kong scenes, the restaurant evokes a dynamic environment—from the vibrant paintings to the Ancient Amazonian statues. There’s also the now-iconic and comical Pedro the Alpaca at the entrance, a symbol for the restaurant.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The Chef


Virgilio Martinez Véliz is the brainchild behind the fine dining eatery, a Lima-born chef and entrepreneur whose flagship restaurant was voted as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World. The Hong Kong debut restaurant pays homage to Peruvian cuisine, bringing the distinctive flavours to our very own H Queen’s.

Helmed by Chef Jose Manuel Sabrera, a Peruvian native who was previously part of the kitchens of Astrid y Gaston in Lima—No.14 in the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants—Ichu Peru serves contemporary South American cuisine with touches of international influences.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Brunch


The weekend brunch at Ichu Peru is priced at HK$398 per person and includes six distinctive sharing platters, one main dish and a dessert platter. Gourmands can add-on two hours of free-flow, available in two packages from HK$280 per person.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Entrantes


First, we tried the Choros A La Chalaca, comprising Spanish Mussels, cooked in a traditional Peruvian style. The tender mussels are topped with Tomato Chalaca and drizzled in Tiger Milk, a winning combination of sweet and salty served in a delicate presentation. A dish originating from the port city of Callao, just north of Lima, the mussels are often served as a party appetiser or pre-meal pick up. The Yuyupa Salad comprised mixed green lettuce, tomatoes, Jicama, carrot, roasted pumpkin, quinoa and yuzu dressing. Compared to the other dishes, this one, unfortunately, lacked in flavour for us. We preferred the Ensalada De Tuna, a delicate portion of four simple ingredients—tuna, potato, peas, peppers—smothered in mustard mayonnaise for a tangy uplift.


Delivered in a plate of dry ice to exude a smoky arrival, the Nikkei Ceviche is a crowd-pleaser for more than just its exotic presentation. The cubed tuna chunks are mixed with octopus, Tamari Tiger’s milk, wasabi, radish and corn seaweed for a well-orchestrated combination of flavours that go beyond your typical salads. The punchy flavours combined with the seafood make the classic Peruvian dish stand out in Hong Kong’s dining scene. The Soft Shell Crab Causa was a well-balanced mix of fried soft shell crab with cold mash potato and Aji Amarillo.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

A round of crispy, deep-fried chicken thigh was a scrumptious snacking platter amidst the seafood salads.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Principales


To our dismay, the iconic Peruvian chicken was unavailable during our brunch—probably due to its limited stock and heaving popularity. It was no problem for us, however, as we were keen to try the vivid alternatives from the choice of seven main courses. We ordered two non-seafood dishes as Ichu Peru is well-celebrated for its divine meats. And we were not disappointed—the Grilled Ribeye is lightly sprinkled with sea salt and bacon with Panca Chili Chimichurri for the South American kick. Served on a boiling hot stone to keep the meat fresh and warm, the Bistec was a winning tribute to Peruvian fare, electrifying our taste buds with the chimichurri, while our eyes could feast on the incredible display. The beef was as tender as we could have hoped, with a smoky, charred exterior thanks to the hot stone preparation.

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Our second main dish was the Arroz Con Pato, a beautifully-presented duck leg confit served with mushroom and pepper-embedded coriander rice, radish and avocado chalaca. The duck was well-seasoned and served upon a distinctive bed of herb rice, which, although the dish complemented well with the exotic South American flavours, the beef was our favourite out of the two.

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Every main is served with Peruvian rice (Chaufa) and crispy sweet potato with Huancaina sauce (Camote Crujiente).

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Dessert Platter


The indulgent dessert platter was enough sharing for two, comprising Tres Leches, Chocolate X, Alfajor Caramel, Alfajor Natilla, Seasonal Fruit, Ice Cream and Sorbet. An eye-catching and decadent combination of unique Peruvian desserts in an elegant serving dish, we loved the Tres Leches the most, a sweet condensed milk-drizzled sponge bread with carrot and meringue.

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Take a trip to Peru in the heart of Central


Although Peruvian cuisine remains unfamiliar for many Hong Kongers, Ichu Peru offers a non-intimidating, enlightening experience for all gourmands to taste the tip of the iceberg—or more likely, the tip of the Peruvian Andes. Interiors (by Joyce Wang) are definitely a showstopper, whisking you into the depths of Peru, backed by upbeat Inca beats to set the atmosphere. Our brunch experience was undeniably diverse and memorable, a harmonious combination of classic Peruvian dishes—with just the right amount of introduction to unknown ingredients to the local culinary scene.


Adventurous taste buds will not be disappointed at Ichu Peru, where simple regional ingredients are uplifted with an array of exotic flavours and cooking techniques from the Peruvian landscapes. Weekend brunch enthusiasts unite here, although the regular menu looked just as promising. Taste the best of Peruvian delights without catching a flight at Ichu Peru, which takes the seriously underrated cuisine into a new light.

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Post-meal drinks: Ichu Terraza


The al-fresco balcony at Ichu Terraza does not hold back in space—the huge outdoor area is a venue in itself. Frequented by bar hoppers and DJ-event-seekers alike, the bar is a must for diners pre- or post-meal, whether for some fresh air or even better, to try the vast selection of cocktails available.


ICHU PERU, 3/F, H Queen’s Building, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2477 7717, ichu.com.hk

Book your brunch at Ichu Peru