Attention, foodies: The duo behind acclaimed Los Angeles restaurants Picca Peru and Mo-Chica has completed a culinary trifecta. On April 12, chef Ricardo Zarate and business partner Stephane Bombet opened Paichẽ in Marina del Rey, planting this often-forgotten seaside neighborhood firmly on the city’s food map.
The décor hints at the cuisine — three-form panels hang from the ceiling to mimic crashing waves, and long white tiles in the open kitchen resemble fish scales. Paichẽ is an izakaya (a place for drinks and creative small plates) with a seafood-centric menu. Zarate, who has worked at such spots at One Aldwych’s Axis in London and Sai Sai Noodle Bar in L.A., fuses food from his native Peru with Japanese flavors and techniques.
The two-time James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist for “Best Chef: West” divides the menu into eight sections: salads and appetizers, sashimi-style ceviches, tiraditos (raw Peruvian dishes), fritters, anticucho (marinated and grilled spicy meats), hot plates, vegetables and desserts. You’ll want to order a dish from each section, with about three to four plates per person. Take a group of friends, order a variety and share everything.
The restaurant’s namesake fish, paiche, is present in multiple preparations, such as the lettuce wrap, in which the fish is marinated in an anticucho miso and simply grilled; or the paiche tiradito, a Peruvian sashimi that’s thinly sliced, served raw and then topped with aji-amarillo-lemon vinaigrette, tamari and sweet potato mousse.
Other dishes you won’t want to miss are the uni shrimp toast (briny, creamy sea urchin, crispy shrimp paste toast, and a rocoto-honey sauce) and a Peruvian risotto with blood clams and sea urchin. You’ll also want at least one (but probably many) of the dishes from the ceviche section of the menu — prepared in sashimi style, the raw seafood is gently “cooked” in the perfect amount of acid. Crowd-pleasers include the crab, albacore and halibut ceviches.
Paichẽ lives up to its libation-heavy izakaya status with a robust cocktail program, too. Master mixologist Deysi Alvarez has expertly crafted a list of 15 concoctions. No matter what your liquid vice (whether it’s vodka, tequila, cognac, rum or even pisco), there’s something for everyone.
Photos Courtesy of Paiche/RyanTanaka