I was excited to visit new Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant Ayllu in Little Venice recently. After all, ceviche and sushi sounds like a match made in foodie heaven. Tucked away beneath the busy Paddington Basin along the canal, this new concept restaurant is built around the traditions of the the Ayllu community of the Inca Empire. The Ayllu was a group of families that lived together, worked the land together and shared their belongings and mealtimes, just like a large family. Much like the Incan civilisation, Ayllu is about the coming together of friends and families and taking time to share in an evening of great food and innovative cocktails with loved ones. Something that’s definitely needed after six months of not seeing so many friends and family.
Ayllu features rich, dark green walls, elaborate décor and plush banquette seating, with a cosy 60-cover hideaway for those in-the-know. Drawing on the inspiration of the Ayllu community, the menu consists of innovative small plates, designed for the whole table to share. Traditional Peruvian flavours are paired with Japanese influences, bringing fresh and zesty aromas to each dish.
We started off with a selection of sushi. The presentation alone is one for the Gram, with the sashimi wonderfully presented on a bed of lit-up ice. The fatty tuna is a must, gorgeous on its own or with a touch of wasabi if you like your sushi with a kick. The uramaki soft shell crab was another personal favourite, excellently put together with salmon, avocado, spicy mayo and spring onion.
You’ve got to try one of the ceviches while you’re here, it would be rude not to. I’d recommend the Ceviche Nikkei, which is a very tasty tuna ceviche with tiger’s milk (a citrus-based spicy marinade), avocado and sesame seeds. There’s a delicious zingy flavour with just a hint of heat.
The Ayllu Classics offer a mouthwatering selection of mains including Octopus A La Pancha, Cazuela Sabor A Mar (char-grilled salmon) and Lomo Saltado (sautéed strips of flat iron steak). I opted for the Lamb Chops, which are deliciously marinated in a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian spices. The meat is so beautifully tender and succulent, while the spices give an abundance of flavour. I savoured every mouthful.
The desserts are just as traditional, with Baked Chocolate Mala, Glazed Lucuma and Passion Fruit Mousse, and Mochi Ice Cream available. If you’re as full as I was though, then go for the Alfajores with Dulce De Leche – Peruvian short bread with caramel filling, it’s tasty enough to satisfy the sweet tooth and light enough to not leave you feeling too full.
Ayllu did not disappoint my excitement. In fact, it’s instantly become my new favourite fusion restaurant. The food is superb and the service is fantastic, I will definitely be going back and suggest you make a reservation soon too.
For more information visit ayllu.co.uk