Nikkei cuisine is all the rage across the world, as this fusion of Peruvian and Japanese influences makes its presence felt from London to Miami.
“The future of gastronomy is being cooked up in Peru,” said über-chef Ferran Adrià when opening his own Nikkei restaurant, Pakta, in Barcelona in 2013.
That trend came to Cape Town with the opening of Charango, a trendy restaurant on the edge of Heritage Square.
The menu is compact, with just a handful of choices for each course, and the focus is largely on small plate dining and communal feasting, with everyone sharing a number of different dishes.
The tuna tacos are the standout on the menu, while the signature Peruvian dish of ceviche comes in both traditional and “New style” offerings. The seared tuna tataki is also superb.
As you’d expect with a Japanese influence, the menu focuses on seafood, but there are a handful of excellent meaty options on offer too: Peruvian beef skewers play nicely with a delicious dip of spicy aji rocoto peppers, and more traditional main courses include sirloin, pork belly and lamb loin.
And don’t forget dessert: although unusual for most diners, the toasted quinoa crème with caramelised bananas is a surprise highlight of the menu.
The menu is well matched by a compact wine list of mostly boutique estates, but don’t forget to kick things off with a traditional Peruvian Pisco Sour; the chefs at Charango have even had their own brandy distilled for the occasion.