GOOD TASTE

Founder of Lima’s world-renowned Cen­tral restau­rant, Vir­gilio Martínez kick-starts a cul­ture of Peru­vian cui­sine in Hong Kong with the open­ing of Ichu

Home Journal - - CONTETNS - 在香港Ichu餐廳展現秘魯美食文化BY GAVIN YE­UNG PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AMANDA KHO

利馬知名餐廳Cen­tral主廚Vir­gilio Martínez在香港Ichu餐廳展現秘魯美食文化

Peru. These mere two syl­la­bles evoke lush tableaus of Machu Pic­chu, the soar­ing An­des, and the richly pat­terned fuch­sia pon­chos of its na­tional dress, yet al­most none of the lit­tle-known cui­sine. Vir­gilio Martínez is about to change that.

As the founder of Cen­tral – a high-con­cept Peru­vian restau­rant in the cap­i­tal city of Lima that sin­gle-hand­edly put the coun­try on the global food map – the 41-year-old chef has be­come the poster boy for Peru­vian food thanks to re­peated ap­pear­ances on the World’s 50 Best Restau­rants list, a ded­i­cated cook­book pub­lished by Riz­zoli, and an episode on hit Net­flix show, Chef’s Ta­ble.

The Hong Kong gas­tron­omy scene was un­der­stand­ably elated, there­fore, to wel­come his lat­est ven­ture and first in Asia, Ichu Peru. Lo­cated in­side the H Queen’s ver­ti­cal art space, the Bull­dozer Group-backed, 80-seat restau­rant fea­tures ar­rest­ing in­te­ri­ors by Joyce Wang and (by Hong Kong stan­dards) an ex­pan­sive out­door ter­race. An open kitchen con­nects the chefs with the din­ers, from which Peru­vian del­i­ca­cies fea­tur­ing in­gre­di­ents en­demic to its di­verse land­scape emerge.

“It wasn’t a co­in­ci­dence be­cause the first city that I ever vis­ited in Asia was Hong Kong,” ex­plains Vir­gilio on his de­ci­sion to open here. “Since then, I’ve come six or seven times be­cause the food

談到秘魯,人們總會自然聯想到叢林茂密的馬丘比丘、高聳入雲的安地斯山脈,還有長滿吊鐘海棠的天然景貌,但對她的美食文化了解卻又少之又少。Vir­gilio Martínez勢要一改局面。

作為Cen­tral創辦人——一間把全國推到國際美食舞台上的高概念秘魯首都利馬餐廳,更不時入選世界50大餐廳排行榜,又推出Riz­zoli出版的專業食譜,更上過Net­flix熱選節目Chef’s Ta­ble,這位41歲的主廚順理成章地成了秘魯美食的代言人,風頭一時無兩。

美食界戰意高昂的香港絕對是Ichu Peru踏足亞洲的完美起點。位於H Queen藝術大樓內的80座位餐廳由Vir­gilio跟餐飲集團Bull­doz­er共同經營,並請來Joyce Wang親自處理室內裝潢設計,還有(以香港標準來說)極為寬敞的戶外平台。開放式廚房把廚師們跟用餐者拉得更近,並源源不絕地供應各款秘魯流行特色美食和多樣化選擇。

scene and the mar­kets here are so dif­fer­ent yet still so sim­i­lar to Lima. Even the pas­sion the peo­ple have for food is sim­i­lar. When peo­ple meet here they talk about food – Pe­ru­vians are the same.”

De­spite its pedi­gree, Ichu faces some­what of an up­hill bat­tle given the al­most com­plete lack of Peru­vian food in the city, much less Asia. De­spite this, Vir­gilio is adamant that the en­joy­ment of the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence must come be­fore ed­u­cat­ing din­ers on his na­tive cui­sine. “Once they start to en­joy them­selves, they’ll be in the process of ed­u­ca­tion on Peru­vian in­gre­di­ents, food, cul­ture, and tra­di­tions,” he says.

Hong Kong’s dis­tance from Lima – ne­ces­si­tat­ing 24 hours of travel time in most cases – also means that Vir­gilio has had to adapt his hyper-lo­cal, for­ag­ing-heavy modus operandi (which of­ten sourced from the full range of Peru­vian mi­cro­biomes, from wet­lands to coastal re­gions) to the in­gre­di­ents most read­ily avail­able in Hong Kong. How­ever, he is quick to draw a line in the sand for those seek­ing a taste of his first and big­gest suc­cess: “The plan is not to repli­cate Cen­tral, and I don’t want to – I have to put this point very clearly. There is no way to do an­other Cen­tral, be­cause what we did there was bring in­gre­di­ents from dif­fer­ent parts of Peru. Here we are chal­lenged to be cre­ative in a dif­fer­ent way.”

Cue a panoply of shar­ing dishes ex­e­cuted by head chef Sang Jeong, culi­nary paeans to Peru’s trea­sure chest of bio­di­ver­sity as well as the his­tor­i­cal ta­pes­try of its strong Chi­nese and Ja­panese im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties: a bed of moss-like tri-coloured quinoa atop goat’s cheese; red snap­per ce­viche mar­i­nated in “tiger’s milk” and mixed with Peru­vian choclo and can­cha corn; and the end­lessly fra­grant Pez Ama­zo­nia sea bass baked in ba­nana leaves and Ta­mar­illo sauce.

The cock­tails sim­i­larly re­flect Peru’s ma­jes­tic land­scapes, from the gin-based Vida, which repli­cates the Ama­zon with chloro­phyll and co­rian­der root syrup, to the El Nino Ef­fect mar­tini, in­spired by the Peru­vian coast­line with its plank­ton in­fu­sion and briny oys­ter leaf gar­nish.

Joyce Wang’s de­sign scheme metaphor­i­cally el­e­vates the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to new heights. In­deed, the ceiling – com­prised of con­cen­tric, rib­bon-like wood pan­els that re­sem­ble con­tour lines on a

「一切絕非偶然。我第一個到訪的亞洲城市就是香港。」Vir­gilio解釋道:「自此,我便前來造訪六、七回,這裡的美食文化和市場跟利馬異同兼備。人們對美食的熱愛程度也極為相似呢。食客到此談的盡是美食,跟秘魯人差別不大。」

城中甚缺秘魯飲食文化,Ichu要面對的難關的確不小。儘管如此,Vir­gilio還是堅持以用餐體驗為重點,而非只集中極力宣揚家鄉美食。他表示:「人們慢慢享受投入之時,就能自然汲收秘魯用料、美食、文化和傳統各方面的知識。」

香港跟利馬相距24小時旅途距離,也就是說Vir­gilio需要重新適應全新的覓食模式(常從濕地和沿海地區搜購秘魯食材),並要在香港物色穩定的食材供應來源。而他也開宗明義表示:「計劃就是不重複Cen­tral所為,這絕非我的意願,我必定要先說清楚。我們實在沒有必要打造另一間Cen­tral,因為那兒的食材都是從秘魯不同地區而來。我們在此面對的挑戰就是以截然不同的創意方式面對之。」

廚師Sang Jeong操刀的精彩美食展現秘魯的生物多樣性,以及跟中國和日本移民社區的緊密連繫:地衣似的三色藜麥層伴羊奶芝士、紅鯛魚Ce­viche醃虎奶混秘魯Cho­clo和Can­cha玉米;還有Pez Ama­zo­ni­a鱸魚烤蕉葉和Ta­mar­il­lo葉。

to­po­graphic map – was specif­i­cally de­signed to echo the moun­tain­ous char­ac­ter of the coun­try. Min­eral sur­faces in emer­alds and teals con­trast with cus­tomde­signed fur­ni­ture up­hol­stered in richly-pat­terned fab­rics, while flour­ishes – like a tree sus­pended in mid-air and an in­gre­di­ents ta­ble that ex­hibits Peru­vian grains and gar­nishes – add visual verve to the mas­ter­fully co­or­di­nated space.

De­spite the mul­ti­tude of in­spired el­e­ments work­ing in tan­dem, Vir­gilio in­sists that, con­trary to the cere­bral cui­sine at Cen­tral, Ichu is and al­ways will be a re­laxed, fuss-free af­fair that repli­cates Lima’s lo­cal ce­vicherias. “In the end, a restau­rant is not to ed­u­cate peo­ple,” he con­cludes. “Its main goal is to make peo­ple happy in these few hours or min­utes, and af­ter­wards, who knows? One day you might even think about mak­ing a 24-hour-long flight to Peru.” //

Ichu的飲品餐單亦同樣完美地配搭各款秘魯美食,如以氈酒為基調的Vida,混入葉綠素和芫荽根糖漿展現亞馬遜雨林氣息,以及啟發自秘魯海岸線的El Nino Ef­fec­t馬天尼,混入Plank­ton和蠔葉點綴。

與此同時,Joyce Wang匠心獨運的設計把餐飲體驗帶到又一高峰。帶狀同軸木天花鑲板模仿地形地勢,特別設計來回應該國山脈眾多的特色。翠綠和藍綠色的礦物面材跟圖案布藝豐富的特製傢具成悅目對比,精彩矚目的裝飾包括懸在半空的小樹和展示秘魯食材的材料桌,讓空間更顯迷人。

儘管工作在靈感元素緊密相連的情況下,Vir­gilio依然始終如一,堅持讓Ichu走在與Cen­tral截然不同的路線,以輕鬆無負擔的風格為主打,展現利馬當地的文化特色。「畢竟,餐廳的用處不在於教育食客。」他總結道:「任務在於讓人們在這數小時或分數內盡享愉快時刻,後事發展如何,有誰能料?他日也許你會考慮花上24小時長途拔涉親自到秘魯一趟呢。」//

LIMA LI­AI­SON Rich tex­tures and vi­brant colours cre­ate a di­a­logue be­tween the food and in­te­ri­ors, evok­ing the var­ied en­vi­rons of Peru. 利馬色彩 豐富質感與繽紛色彩在美食和室內裝飾之間建起對話交流,回應秘魯精彩多姿的氣氛。

GE­O­LOGIC GRANDEUR Slate tiles and a sus­pended tree draw the eye in Joyce Wang's in­te­rior de­sign, while the ter­race's lush ver­ti­cal gar­den cre­ates an oa­sis within the heart of Cen­tral. 地域之美 地磚和懸在半空的小樹成了Joyce Wang室內設計的焦點,平台的翠 綠花園讓餐廳頓成中環隱藏的一片小綠洲。

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