Stepping inside Paichẽ, the new Peruvian izakaya restaurant from chef Ricardo Zarate (Mo-Chica, Picca) and his business partner Stephane Bombet, is a bit disorienting. A bar juts out, like a shark's fin, prodding and pointing patrons this way and that. Pale, almost iridescent, waves float along the ceiling, among buoy-like light fixtures. An open kitchen is just within reach, especially from chef's tables along the front, and frequently, whole fresh fish lie on cooks' cutting boards, in plain view. A fisherman would be at ease inside Paichẽ.
Of course, the concept of Paichẽ honors both Zarate's training as a sushi chef and his Peruvian heritage. This comes out both in the cocktails, which combine spice and subtle fruit flavors for maximum punch, and, naturally, the food. Yucca-cheese fritters with cilantro salsa, fish chicharrónes and combinations of Peruvian potatoes and cubes of ahi offer literal interpretations. But there are subtle touches among Zarate's plates as well. Notably, the restaurant's namesake, a large fish called paichẽ, is served sashimi-style but with what has become Zarate's signature sauce, the Peruvian leche de tigre, tiger's milk.