PERUVIAN restaurants in the capital, while relatively plentiful, are still something of a rarity in London. Even less easy to find is Peruvian cooking that displays something of an experimental streak.
That makes the arrival of Llama Inn at The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch especially exciting. This new spot in the East End, a beautifully sleek yet cosy dining room which boasts great views of the city, is the place to go for delicious South American dishes that get the classics spot-on, while adding innovative touches that bring in Japanese ingredients.
Views of the city at Llama Inn in Shoreditch
Headed by rising star Chef Marcin Maliczowski, the menu starts off with some excellent anticucho. These skewers of grilled octopus and cabbage come out of the kitchen steaming, dressed with aji panca, a sweet and smoky pepper, and a mild miso sauce.
Also worth checking out in the “snacks” section is the Pastel de choclo croquettes: hot crispy balls of Peruvian corn combined with melted mozzarella, which come with a delicious ocopa sauce (a Peruvian black mint that’s similar to coriander).
Scallop ceviche with nori
A Peruvian restaurant that didn’t serve ceviche would no doubt be a little strange. At Llama Inn, there are three available. The one that seems to have turned the most heads so far is a picturesque scallop offering that is mixed with yuzu kosho (a floral-toned chilli paste) and dragon fruit.
Similarly, the best-known Peruvian dish, lomo saltado, features as a large plate, intended for sharing. This is a South American take on a Chinese beef stir-fry, which is covered in fries and served with rice. Instead of opting for this classic, we decided to try the whole sea bass which is expertly cooked in banana leaf.
With all the bones taken out, it was particularly enjoyable to dive into the succulent white meat which was accompanied by an excellent fruity curry sauce that really makes this dish sing.
Part of the new brunch menu at Llama Inn
The star of the entire show, though, is likely to be the Nutella Tres Leche, a recent addition to the dessert menu. This is Chef Marcin’s winning version of the traditional South American sponge cake, which is soaked in three types of milk.
At Llama Inn, the super-soft chocolate sponge comes topped with a mound of whipped cream and chocolate cream and who knows what else. It’s truly intoxicating and you must try it.
Whole fish with amarillo curry
As well as serving food all day (very handy), with a special new brunch menu offered at the weekend, Llama Inn houses a beautiful bar which is a brilliant option for a relaxed drink (much more elegant than the rowdy lobby bar at The Hoxton). Be sure to look at the unique cocktail options, which include such compositions as Yayo Hipster (Japanese gin, olive lemonade) and La Santa (white rum, bee pollen).
The lovely staff here, a most accommodating and welcoming team, are on hand throughout and make the experience at Llama Inn rather special indeed. The restaurant’s stylish presence in this busy stretch of Shoreditch should make it a go-to for those looking for somewhere impressive to eat and drink in this part of town.
by Derby Jones
Llama Inn, 1 Willow Street, London EC2. Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org