Being very greedy and having read about how delicious Peruvian food is I very much wanted to try it. To find Chicama on my doorstep was terrific. The menu is mainly fish and vegetable based, inspired by coastal food of Peru but with a strong Japanese influence and it is this mix which is at the heart of Chicama.
The Japanese population in Peru is the second largest outside Japan with the first settlers arriving in the late 1800s. History tells us that a rumour spread that a country on the other side of the world was ‘full of gold’. With a mild climate, no epidemics and a rich soil for farming, young Japanese men were encouraged to go to work on the coastal plantations. These early settlers had a great influence on the Peruvian food which is found today. The combination of Japanese and Peruvian food is known as Nikkei and is a fairly new sensation to hit Europe’s culinary capitals.
Chicama in Chelsea is the sister restaurant to Pachamama in Marylebone if you find yourself that way. Here, incredibly fresh fish is delivered daily and displayed proudly. The chefs use seasonal British produce to create inspirational food which challenge the mind and taste buds.
The bar is full of an eclectic mix including pisco, mezcal, Japanese whiskey, sake, and a well thought out wine list from around the world. Helped by the prompt arrival of a delicious Pisco Sour, a must have, we seemed to have ordered most of the menu but these plates are for sharing. Pisco is such an under rated liquid made of grape must and takes around 12 kilos of grapes to make just one bottle of pisco.
Our dishes included courgette and cornmeal beignets with herb mayonnaise and chilli jam and aubergine, plantain miso with sour cream and pecans, both delicious and very different. Their renowned ceviche coming cut into chunks rather than delicate slivers and we tried three: scallop with Jerusalem artichokes and truffle milk, sea bass with soy tigers milk and sesame and salmon with ají limo tigers milk, tomato and avocado with puffed rice. The chef added tapioca marshmallow with ocupa sauce which was a taste sensation – they were all terrific but you do need the knowledge of the staff to steer you in the right direction.
If this wasn’t enough we then had a refreshing crab and green papaya salad and the swordfish (fish of the day) cooked on a Robata grill. Chicama was buzzing with chefs and bar staff creating everything in front of you and the diners were a real mix of all ages. There is a charming terrace for summer months where dogs are allowed, so make a diary note dog lovers of Chelsea.
I am very keen to go back to do a ceviche masterclass where you gather round the chefs table and all the ingredients are laid out, along with the tools required to create your own masterpieces of fishy deliciousness, whilst having a talk about the nuances of Peruvian cuisine. After this you have a feasting menu of dishes which have been put together to complement your own effort – all this washed down with Pisco Sours – yes please!
To book and discover more, visit: www.chicamalondon.com
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