Chef Ricardo Zarate has opened Paichẽ, a Peruvian izakaya, in Marina del Rey, CA on April 12th 2013.
His third restaurant, following the successes of sister concepts, celebrated Los Angeles restaurants Picca and Mo-chica, honors the influence of Japanese flavors in Peruvian cuisine and the efforts of Zarate’s mother country toward making indigenous species of fish sustainable with a menu inspired by the Japanese tradition of creative small plates. Paichẽ, named for the prehistoric Amazonian fish which will be prominently featured throughout the menu, represents the nearby ocean—from the seafood-focus of the menu down to the restaurant’s design. “Peru has one of the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, and Japanese cuisine has been a large part of my training as a chef,” Zarate says. “This restaurant is izakaya-style, which means it is a meeting place for friends to enjoy great food and drink. Paichẽ’s menu will showcase the best of my country’s cuisine combined with the flavors and techniques I love from Japan, and I’m excited to show people what that means to me.”
Zarate, a 2011 FOOD & WINE “Best New Chef” and two-time James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist for “Best Chef: West,” plays with plating and flavors on his new menu, showcasing modern interpretations of Peruvian dishes. The menu is divided into seven sections, from top to bottom: Abrebocas & Ensaladas, Ceviches Sashimi Style, Tiraditos, Anticucho Grill, Frituras, Cocina Caliente, and Verduras. The restaurant’s namesake fish, paiche, is seen in multiple preparations, such as a Paiche Lettuce Wrap, in which the fish is marinated in an anticucho miso and simply grilled; a Tiradito, or Peruvian sashimi, thinly sliced and served raw topped with aji amarillo lemon vinaigrette, tamari, and sweet potato mousse; from the Anticucho Grill as an Amazonian Paiche Kama, and finally in the Seco De Paiche, an Amazonian fish stew with cilantro japaleno sauce and pallares.
Throughout the menu, Zarate delves into Amazonian dishes and oils. The Anticucho section features Tacacho, a traditional dish Zarate serves as muddled grilled plantains, smoked pancetta, and jalapeno sauce; while the Seabass Tiradito introduces diners to Amazonian sacha inchi oil—created through the pressing of the fruit and nut of the Pracaxi tree, found exclusively in the area surrounding the Amazon River—served atop the seared seabass, soy dressing, garlic, and oba. Other versions of a Tiradito include the Wagyu Black Truffle Tiradito, in which seared wagyu beef is topped with parmesan sauce, aji amarillo vinaigrette, and black truffles. The Anticucho section further explores Amazonian fish with Pacu Ribs, in which ribs from the pacu, a relative of the piranha, covered are in a rocoto teriyaki glaze amd served alongside a zapallo puree. From the Cocina Caliente, or hot kitchen, come explorations into ceviche with the Ceviche de Pato—duck confit with ceviche stew and pallares tacu tacu.
Paichẽ is named for the prehistoric Amazonian fish which can grow to be 600 pounds. Zarate’s goal behind naming the restaurant is to help raise awareness of his culture’s work to keep paiche, and other Amazonian species, sustainable and introduce them to the mainstream U.S. diner. “The indigenous Amazonian tribes in Peru began farming the fish once they noticed a decrease in the population,” he explains. “Thankfully for us, they have successfully kept it from extinction.” The restaurant is an example of Zarate’s efforts to demonstrate not only how to keep fish sustainable, but responsible ways in which to consume it.
In true izakaya fashion, but with a Peruvian twist, Paichẽ will serve inexpensive small plates alongside Latin wines and spirits, as well as an extensive selection of Japanese sake, whiskeys and beer.
The restaurant was designed by DesignARC, in collaboration with Ricardo, and decorated to evoke oceanic themes; the restaurant is adorned with different shades of blue interspersed with warm tones and dark woods. The design is modern yet warm—the concrete floor is stained in a dark brown, and the walls are covered with reclaimed wood from a salvaged barn in Utah. Colored, three-form panels hang from the ceiling to mimic crashing waves, and long white tiles will be installed in the open kitchen to resemble scales of a fish. Upon entry, guests are greeted by a large saltwater tank containing live lobster. The open kitchen connects to three chef’s tables, allowing diners to view their dishes being prepared, and the restaurant boasts a 42-seat patio divided from the dining room by floor-to-ceiling retractable glass doors.
Paichẽ is located at 13488 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey, CA 90292, adjacent to the Marina Marketplace.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, serving from 11:30 a.m.-to 11:30 p.m. Reservations can be made via [Open Table] and by calling 310.893-6100.
Visit Paichẽ on www.paichela.com and www.facebook.com/paicherestaurant and @paichela as well as Chef Zarate on @ricardomzarate