Rach has been raving to me for ages about Chicha – the much-hyped Peruvian restaurant by Concept Creations (the folks behind Tapeo and Frites) and now I’ve finally visited, if I were to describe my experience in one word, it’d be: surprise! Since I’ve never tried any Peruvian cuisine before, everything I tasted was new, fresh and exciting, so come hungry and ready to try as many of these wonderful dishes as possible!
The vibe at Chicha is slightly mysterious (almost sexy!) with its red and black décor, leather sofas and tantalizing music playing in the background, and the space split into a dining room with long tables and a bar area. The menu is made up of a range of smaller dishes that you can order tapas-style to share, plus a range of hefty “big shares” portions.
With Peru being a major fishing nation, expect a lot of fish right from the get-go! We started with the ceviche de corvine marinated in leche de tigre (a lime juice based marinade); although the “tiger’s milk” was wonderfully citrus-y, I found the chunks of sea bass alarmingly huge! Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of this dish, I did like the dried corn and choclo (a Peruvian white corn that I’d never seen before in HK), which provided some much-needed crunch.
The king fish tiradito was definitely more to my liking – the sauce was a perfect combination of sweet and sour with a tiny spicy kick. The sweet potato mash (hidden under the crisps!) also blended well with the sauce and the thinly sliced fish, resulting in an absolutely delish dish.
The hot scallop ceviche arrived next – and these are a must-order! Tender, perfectly cooked and sitting in a to-die-for sauce, it’s definitely one to drool over. The mix of aji amarillo (a type of chilli) butter, soy, honey, lime and spring onions is absolutely divine and we promise that you’ll be drinking every last drop of this stuff like a soup before letting the waiters take it away!
My favourite dish was the black cod skewers. Appropriately named “Oh My Cod” (what you’ll be saying after you taste it!), the chunks of fish are cooked beautifully; a slightly crispy exterior that reveals meltingly soft creamy flesh inside. The ponzu miso and aioli sauce on top is yet another of Chicha’s addictive sauces, a real treat that enhances the flavour of the cod and tops off the dish.
The crispy pan con chicharonnes are Chicha’s take on a mini burger slider, and again, it’s all about the sauce – this time, a creamy aji amarillo number that totally sets the dish alight. The combination of textures and flavours – crispy pork (with some gorgeously soft fatty bits), crunchy onions, soft burger bun and finger-licking good sauce – is a total winner.
Our final small bite was the fish taco – and simple as it sounds, the flavours in this dish were intense and delightful. Unlike many of the tacos around town, these are hard taco shells with a rich corn flavour, whilst the filling of fish, cabbage, mango salad and yet more delish sauces will start a party in your mouth! Word of advice: you will have a falling out with your taco… and by that, I mean eat with care as this is a giant mess waiting to happen (especially if you’re wearing a white shirt)!
We also tried one big share, the lomo saltado, and it’s just the thing if you need some carbs in your meal! This is a Peruvian classic done with an Asian influence; reminiscent of a giant Chinese stir fry with veggies, potatoes and beef fried up and served with a huge ball of rice, which is then broken up and mixed together with everything else in the pan. The result? Every single ingredient in there soaks up all those incredible flavours – a great combination of two cultures! Given the size of this portion, you may even need to takeaway any leftovers… and it might just taste even better the next day!
We couldn’t decide which dessert to have – so Chicha’s lovely manager Piero kindly whipped us up a dessert platter featuring all four sweets available! Starting from one end to the other, the canutos crocantes (my fave – although Rach declared it impossible to choose!) were similar to an Italian cannoli, except filled with custard; super crunchy on the outside and creamily soft in the centre, I could eat them all day long! The dulce de leche ice cream was smooth, sweet and gloriously indulgent, with caramelized plantain served on the side as its partner in crime.
The Suspiro de Limena (literal translation: “the lady from Lima’s sigh”!) was a rich layer of dulche de leche topped with meringue, with crunchy biscuits perfect for scooping up any remaining dulce de leche. The final dessert was the picarones, super indulgent sweet potato doughnuts that were sticky sweet with orange syrup.
The price per head at Chicha very much depends on quite how huge you want your sharing feast to be! The ceviches are around $150, the “big shares” around $300 and the desserts about $100 each; meanwhile, you can order the rest of the dishes by individual serving, meaning you get only as much as you need per group – so it’s $40-75 for each skewer, $50 per scallop, $55 per taco and $60 for each pan con chiccaron. Service is swift and attentive, and all the waiters can recommend their fave dishes, plus give you a rough estimate of how many items to order to ensure all of your party leaves satisfied.
Who knew that Peruvian food could be so delicious, eh? For a special meal with your date or a group of friends, Chicha is just the spot to share good food and good times! It’s been a total foodie hotspot since its opening last year, so be sure to snag a table ASAP to get in on this Peruvian madness!
Chicha G/F, 26 Peel Street, Central
2561 3336 www.conceptcreations.hk/index.php/chicha