If ever a restaurant manifested the colours of a country it would be Ichu Peru, the acclaimed contemporary Peruvian restaurant in Central. To understand more about this alluring venture, we took a 4-minute break with Head Chef Sang, who has Korean origins and extensive culinary experience in the States, Peru and Australia, to talk about the challenge of bringing Peruvian cuisine to Asia and how he balances local tastes and traditional flavours.
For those not familiar with Ichu Peru, what cuisine and experience are you known for?
Ichu Peru is a Peruvian restaurant, offering a casual, fun, vibrant and energetic dining experience to food lovers in Hong Kong. We try to keep the flavours traditional with modern presentation, so that people who are not familiar with Peruvian cuisine can come here and see what the everyday Peruvian stands for, and try some new food. I was working in Lima, in a restaurant called Central Restaurante, with Chef Virgilio Martinez for 3 years. So when Chef opened his first restaurant here Asia, I came here to run Ichu Peru with him.
It’s now been 9 months since Ichu Peru opened its doors and it has become one of the most sought-after restaurants in Hong Kong. Have you made any changes to the menu to cater for Hong Kong tastes now that you have had some time to receive feedback?
What we realised in the past 9 months is that there are a lot of Hong Kong foodies who have never tried Peruvian food. That leads us to create dishes with familiar Peruvian ingredients and texture to make it easier for people to try our food for the first time. For instance, we make chicken wings covered with puff quinoa, grouper with cassava puree (root vegetables), and potato with Peruvian yellow pepper dip sauce.
We noticed that the ceviche is made with Tiger’s milk!? (Leche de Tigre). Can you tell us more as most Hong Kong foodies may not be too familiar with it?
Ceviche is one of the traditional dishes from Peru. They serve fresh fish and a sauce made with lime juice, which is the tiger’s milk. When I heard about it in Peru for the first time, I was wondering how could people do that with tigers. Thankfully, it’s not that kind of milk. After living in Peru for 3 years, I believe they call it that because of the cooking process. You blend fresh fish with other ingredients so that the sauce becomes blurry white, almost like milk. It has a lot of acidity, which wakes you up and fills you with energy. That’s why people call the sauce tiger’s milk.
Wondering how ceviche with tiger’s milk tastes? Book a table now on Dishtag to find out!
Speaking of taking photos, what do you think of professional food photography and styling?
I think photography is memory, good memory. You feel like you get the idea when you see something interesting, but you actually don’t at the time. That’s why I like capturing the moment, and then whenever I have time, or when I have another idea, I can go back to the picture and try to re-connect and combine the ideas.
I think professional food photography embodies the concept of a restaurant, whereas snapshots on the phones play another crucial role nowadays – sharing. Regardless of the specific reason why people take photos of my dishes, it’s good to know that they find them interesting. So I believe a combination of professional photos and foodies’ photos can inspire and influence people before they walk in and taste it.