A hybrid of Peruvian, Mexican, Argentinian, Venezuelan and Colombian cuisines, Picada is a culinary expedition across the vast landscape of Latin America, culminating in one of Hong Kong’s most exciting pan-Latin restaurants to date. From a small storefront in SoHo, the newly relocated Picada is a nearly 300-square-metre space sitting atop LKF, encompassing a dining room, dance floor, private dining room, bar and upstairs terrace.
This new Latino powerhouse champions bold and mouth-watering South American flavours in a restaurant that buzzes with energy from morning to night. The culinary scene shifts from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon River, a soundtrack of upbeat reggaeton and salsa causes toes to tap on the polished oak floors, and a Peruvian-born chef delivers on the flavours of his homeland, scoring knockout versions of ceviche, tiraditos and empanadas.
That chef is Abel Ortiz Alvarez, a kitchen veteran who honed his skills at top restaurants around Latin America, including Central in Lima, which is currently in the top five on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Using native ingredients, Abel cultivates a menu that traverses the varied geographical regions of Peru, from ocean to jungle to mountains, showcasing the true complexity of the cuisine.
Take the arepas, for example. These sealed corn pockets give way to luxurious fillings of slow-cooked beef ribs simmered in spice and chorizo bolstered with chimichurri. There’s also the lomo saltado taquitos, a stir fry of beef, onion and peppers that tips its hat to Peruvian cuisine’s Asian influence, and anticuchos: grilled skewers of chicken, beef and salmon inspired by traditional street carts. Then comes the ceviche: fresh pieces of hamachi and salmon bathed in a ‘leche de tigre’ marinade that delivers citrus from limes and heat from chillies in carefully calibrated doses.
The rotisserie is also put to good use in Picada’s Chicken a la Brasa, a Peruvian classic where the chicken is roasted whole and served with a side of confit baby potatoes, fresh mesclun salad and fries. Meanwhile, the Argentinian rib-eye is a treat for carnivores – rich slabs of steak complimented by a herbaceous chimichurri and fresh pico de gallo.
The energetic decor at Picada complements its offerings on the plate: a cross-section of art, music and dance, framed by murals from artists such as Carol Bellese Choi, Caratoes, Vidzul and even Picada’s co-founder, Jacqueline Nelles. She envisioned the space to represent the vast and varied terrain of South America, from the Amazon river that snakes its way past the El Dorado bar to the Desert dining area and lagoon, complete with mountainous landscapes and lush green foliage.
As the evening sets in, the best spot in Picada is upstairs on the Jungle terrace, where guests can enjoy pitchers of pisco sours – the signature drink of Peru. Downstairs, the speakers get cranked up as the live band takes to the stage. On certain evenings, Picada offers beginner salsa classes for those itching to let loose on the dance floor. With the electrifying atmosphere and equally thrilling fare lowering your inhibitions, you might be surprised to be the first one stepping out on the stage.