Japanese? Peruvian? In a sky-high venue off busy Hennessy Road, El Mercado (meaning “the market” in Spanish) offers Nikkei cuisine, which originated in Peru and roughly translates to a mishmash of Peruvian and Japanese dishes.
Look & Feel: Wall-mounted crates full of fruits and veggies, teak chairs and sandy wood tables complete the casual-comfy look.
On the Menu: Take your pick of light bites, sushi, ceviches and sharing platters, all with beautiful-sounding Spanish names and a convergence of east-meets-Latin-America flavors.
Meet the Chef: Peruvian chef Jose Manuel Sabrera Meza is no stranger to fine dining: he worked at San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best restaurant Astrid y Gaston in Lima and cut his chops at Le Cordon Bleu, just to name a few accomplishments.
Jeng: You’re going to have a failsafe meal at El Mercado pretty much no matter what you order. From the squid-ink-foam oysters ($58) to the tangy leche de tigre fish ceviche ($158-178) to the stir-fired lomo saltado (Peruvian steak-frites, $308), the dishes titillate all corners of your palate, combining sweet, sour, savory and spicy in heavenly mix ‘n’ matches.
Not So Jeng: We’re all for experimentation, but the sushis seem to go overboard with taste bud stimulation. Banana confit overwhelms the Del Amazonas seared beef nigiri ($68/2 pieces), and strong pickled ginger similarly overtakes the Machu Picchu sea urchin nigiri ($68/2 pieces).
Great For: A fun and tasty night out with adventurous friends.
FYI: Restaurateur Bart Szyniec is the guy behind El Mercado. He was formerly a restaurant manager at Aqua Roma in Tokyo.
This writeup was based on a complimentary media tasting. The Loop doesn’t guarantee/sell restaurant review coverage. See our editorial policy here.