If you’re forever a fan of Picca and Mo-Chica, the Peruvian concepts from decorated restaurant team Stephane Bombet and chef Ricardo Zarate, then odds are you’ll enjoy Paiche, an exotic ode to its namesake, the prehistoric Amazonian fish.
The menu samples foods of a Japanese izakaya via Peru, so it's easy to find foods you’ve never before sampled. Paiche rears its head, both cooked and raw, throughout the lengthy small plates menu: Surprisingly meaty, thick-cut paiche is smothered in an umami-rich miso and wrapped in lettuce ($12), and pacu ribs ($12) are glazed in a similar sweet and tangy miso-lime dressing with an utterly perfect crisp skin holding together the moist, flaky white fish.
A bevy of fish and shellfish are served "sashimi style" ($8-$25) in Zarate’s tried-and-true leche de tigre, a thick yellow sauce made with garlic, ginger, sea bass, aji amarillo and lime. (On a recent evening, the sauce carried just a touch too much lime, overpowering any flavor found in the accompanying halibut or scallop.)
Weathered wood and ocean blue call on the restaurant’s proximinity to the Pacific, as the jovial, bustling space attract a mixed crowd. Perhaps it’s the oversized flatscreen TV hovering above the bar or the mega chains and shopping shopping malls nearby, but the restaurant’s has a subtle chain feel and is deafening loud when packed to the gills come dinnertime.
What to eat: If you try but one paiche preparation, go with the lettuce wraps. The uni shrimp toast ($14) is a must, with a generous layer of sea urchin atop shrimp paste, diced tomatoes on a wonderfully crisp white bread. For a heartier plate, try the blood clam risotto ($18), hued a deep purple-black and studded with blood clams. (Beware: Sand occasionally still dwells inside the clams.) End the meal with the mildly sweet matcha green tea coconut cake ($12), a moist white cake topped with puffs of green tea cream and a sesame seed tuille.
What to drink: Cocktails are orchestrated by Deysi Alvarez (Mo-Chica) and play up Latin spirits like pisco, rum, tequila and mescal. The classic pisco sour ($11) is well made with lime, cinnamon and egg white, while a fruitier concoction, the Maracuya Caipirinha ($15), calls for passion fruit, cachaça, and lime.
Where to sit: Grab a table on the breezy, covered outdoor patio along Maxella. Or, if you’re looking to catch the game, sidle up in front of the large TV at the bar.
Conversation piece: Depending on how you order, plates can be pricey with portions on the smaller side, so stop by 2:30-5pm daily when food is 20% off.