Over the last couple of years, London’s Peruvian restaurant scene has blossomed, introducing local diners to exotic native ingredients and delectable sauces, often done with an Asian flair. At the centre of it all is ceviche: chunks of raw fish marinated in citrus juice and spices. Zingy, beautifully presented, and refreshingly light, it’s the perfect dish to eat on a date. Plates are small and designed to share, and there’s little risk of making a mess of yourself when you’re trying to impress someone (burgers, we’re looking at you). With that in mind, we’ve sampled the seafood at Peruvian spots all over the city and come up with a definitive list of winners. Use it as a guide for your next romantic outing as you enjoy the experience at the 3 best ceviche spots in London.
The first stop on your trail should be the aptly-named Ceviche in Soho, a lively and colourful Peruvian kitchen and pisco bar that offers small plates of the fishy stuff, as well as delicious salads and grilled skewers of tender meat. Start by grabbing a seat at the buzzing counter-bar, where you’ll find six different varieties of ceviche all marinated in leche de tigre: a unique combination of lime, chilli, and salt that determines the acidity and spiciness of each dish.
If you’re feeling bold, go for the strongly acidic don ceviche: pieces of sea bass with amarillo chili tiger’s milk and limo chilli, balanced out by sweet potato and red onions. If your date is still undecided, suggest the sweeter, Japanese-influenced sakura maru – thinly sliced salmon in Nikkei tiger’s milk, made with satsumas, mirin, soy sauce, and super-hot limo chili. It wakes your taste buds up, so wash the bites down with a couple of pleasingly tart Pisco sours and order a few more plates to share – you two will want to keep enjoying those amazing flavours in the cool Soho ambiance.
If you’re looking for a restaurant with more of a pop-up vibe, get yourself down to Señor Ceviche in Kingly Court on Carnaby Street. Now a permanent fixture, this place mimics the look and feel of Barranco, the colonial bohemian district of Lima. Take your spots at the colourful tile-topped bar, where you’re surrounded by splashy neon art posters. Order a Barranco babe (a more complex take on the classic Pisco sour, it adds a fragrantly sweet mix of passion fruit, basil, and vanilla) and peruse the small but carefully curated menu, while your ears come alive to the restaurant’s salsa, Motown, and rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack.
Order the signature dish, which has cubes of sea bream mixed and tempura baby squid mixed with avocado — a typically Peruvian ingredient that you’ll appreciate in a whole new way. If you’re looking to round out your night with some meat and starch, try the hot and smoky pachamanca pork ribs and the fresh and crunchy Cusco quinoa. You’ll feel like you’ve joined the fiesta, and you might just end up staying out longer than you’d planned.
If small plates and party vibes aren’t your thing, but fine dining is, then Lima in Fitzrovia should be your destination. The first Peruvian restaurant in Europe to win a Michelin star, Lima Fitzrovia feels more like a classic British restaurant – with a three-course menu and neutral dining rooms over two floors. There’s a low-level hum of music that makes dining casual, but this is definitely more high-end restaurant than lively bar.
The modern décor, with muted primaries and lots of mirrors, makes the fish taste even fresher. You order the sea bream, marinated in tiger’s milk and flecked with shards of hot aji limo chili for a perfect blend of zingy and spicy. Next stop, booking a holiday to Peru?