ICHU in H Queens Central, Restaurant Review | Delish Eats
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Delish Eats: ICHU, Modern Nikkei Dining Above Central’s Urban Jungle

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Restaurant story: Located in H Queens tower, lined with a famous open-air terrace with bar service, ICHU is a modern Nikkei dining room occupying the heart of the Central neighbourhood. Managed by the Bulldozer Group, ICHU first opened its doors in 2017, and has remained one of the city’s prime spots for its uniquely inventive fusion cuisine ever since. Having recently refreshed their offerings and renovated the al fresco area, ICHU is out to set off sparks this summer.

Chef story: ICHU kicked off the summer by welcoming its new Executive Chef Andrés Rendón, the mind behind this entirely revamped menu. He had previously been working a post at the St Regis Downtown in Dubai. Born in Venezuela and experienced in cooking Japanese, French, Mediterranean, Arabic, Italian, and Nikkei cuisines, Chef Andrés brings with him a treasure trove of international influences that enrich each intricate layer of flavour presented in his dishes.

What’s the vibe and venue like: Visually arresting, the atmosphere is set immediately upon the elevator doors opening. Despite featuring a plethora of intricate patterns, detailed elemental designs, a swirling behemoth of a mural, and accented pieces all around, the space never feels overwhelming. Designed by the world-famous Joyce Wang Studio, there is an air of art-deco influences in the core pieces that are punctuated by colourful folk-art inspired items asserting the cultural roots ICHU draws from.

How much does it cost: Our seating comprised a hefty party of five, sharing selected options from the a-la-carte menu. Do note that the prices below list the pricing of each option in full size, but our portions were adjusted to maximize variety. The table’s total was about HK$3215, which translates to around HK$643 per person, plus service charge.

For discerning individual guests who, too, enjoy diversity, ICHU offers the LIMA (HK$680 per person) and NARA (HK$880 per person) tasting menus which offer a well-rounded curation by the team that covers starters, mains, and dessert.

What is the menu about: At the heart of ICHU’s Nikkei cuisine is a reverence for Peruvian ingredients, Japanese cooking techniques, and bold tastes pulled from the greatest international influences. Enjoyed as sharing plates, intricately curated meats and seafood are dressed in unique sauces and seasonings and cooked to accentuate their boldest flavours. Over the course of the dinner, items gradually ramped up in intensity, before the calm evening concluded on a sweet note.

What did we order: Truffled Scallops (HK$180), Mixto Ceviche (HK$180), Tuna Tartare with Black Caviar (HK$350), Wagyu Tataki (HK$330), Hamachi Tiradito (HK$180), Coconut Aji Tuna (HK$250), Tacos de Carne (HK$135), Chicken Panca (HK$380), Pez de Amazonia (HK$450), Octopus (HK$240), Avocado Salad (HK$90), Camote (HK$90), Broccolini (HK$90), Torta de Leches (HK$90), Panna Cotta de Coco (HK$90), Alfajor (HK$90)

Canapes (Truffled Scallops, Mixto Ceviche, Tuna Tartare with Black Caviar): A triumphant prelude that set the scene of the key flavours to come, this by-the-bite trio refreshed and invigorated. The Ceviche was tinged with a tropical, galangal-esque fragrance that played to its supple bite, and the scallop paired well with citrus. The tartare led with the essence of tuna, the caviar accentuating the fish’s natural flavour – a marker of its freshness, but also a point to be wary of if you are not a maguro fanatic.

Hamachi Tiradito, Coconut Aji Tuna: Taking these quintessentially Japanese fish options, Chef Andrés transformed them with vibrant Latin-American touches, using mango and avocado to add creaminess to the Aji Tuna that played off the coconut fragrance, and letting the Hamachi swim in the tangy sweet marinade.

Tacos de Carne: Served on a blue maize tortilla, the beef was encaseed in a carb that shows a more textured mouthfeel, a well-thought-out balance to the creaminess of the Avocado mousse and the crunch of the red onion.

Chicken Panca: There is perhaps an innate sensitivity to collectively tucking into a roast together that makes a dish like this particularly comforting. The panca-marinated chicken was seasoned throughout, and achieved the perfect balance of retaining juiciness and tenderness, without getting lost in the roast and losing its moisture entirely.

Pez de Amazonia: A whole seabass cooked in banana leaf, it’s flesh a bed for the scallop and prawn that topped the fillet, the dish was arguably a visual highlight of the evening. The decadent cream sauce was given extra dimension with ‘picante’ flair, doubling as an unfailing companion to the camote (purple sweet potato) fries.

Grilled Octopus: Set to impress all the senses, the dish first captures the olfactory sensors with its fiery fragrance, before wow-ing our tastebuds with the unique mixture of spiced-up marinade of the protein, and the Yakiniku sauce and yuzu puree it was drenched in. Bouncy, supple, with a bit of a bite from flame-grilling, the dish was a stunner through and through.

Avocado Salad, Broccolini: An unexpected dish to grip our attention, the broccolini’s preparation was simple yet miles ahead of merely being just sufficient. Blanched and quickly passed through an open flame, it’s crunchy green stalks simultaneously held the verdant freshness promised by the summer breeze outside, as well as the wisp of charring. The sesame dressing covered avocado salad was a wonderful palate cleanser that presented some of my favourite salad elements in all their natural simplicity.

(Not pictured) Wagyu Tataki, Camote: As the penultimate starter served, the Wagyu sealed the deal as the richest tasting raw meat item, knocking it out of the park by contrasting the meat’s delicate tenderness with the deeply aromatic truffle that seeped its way into the essence of the beef.

There wasn’t much in terms of flavour to indicate the Camote was baked, not fried, and the texture retained that optimal crisp to fluff ratio. I could’ve been fooled. The accompanying Criollo sauce gave it that characteristic Nikkei twist that was integral to all the dishes.

Torta de Leches: Putting a fresh seasonal spin on the classically decadent Latin-American dessert of torta de leche, the ICHU interpretation adds a zing of fruitiness in the form of viscous mango coulis, a fragrant lightness with banana ice cream, with the signature creaminess from Anglaise sauce. What’s there not to love? It’s a medley of cake, fruit, and cream, all in one.

Panna Cotta de Coco, Alfajor: Panna Cotta is a dessert group that I personally hold near and dear. I have enjoyed almost all milk pudding offshoots this humble dessert has birthed, this version included. Replacing the standard vanilla aroma was a smooth coconut palate that left me less weighed down than expected.

Don’t be fooled by the Alfajor, this is not a macaron but in fact, a buttery shortbread. Crumbling with each bite yet holding together with just the right amount of density, the biscuit was a perfect end to the meal, and heavenly to enjoy between sips of hot tea. The caramel and coconut centre helped to prevent it from tasting too one-note.

What we liked: As diverse as the Hong Kong food scene is, it has to be said that Latin-American cuisine is not an easy find. Balancing superb flavours and international influences, ICHU’s menu offers an accessible introduction to Nikkei cuisine. The restaurant venue is also a gorgeous spot that could easily shapeshift into the role of a stylish backdrop to brunch, dinner, or casual drinks.

What we didn’t like: When it came to the taco, I would have preferred there to be more gravy from the beef stew to prolong the smoky sweetness of the star ingredient, and perhaps a touch of tomato to add some umami and acidity.

What you should order: Coconut Aji Tuna, Wagyu Tataki, Chicken Panca, Octopus, Broccolini, Panna Cotta de Coco, Alfajor

Location: ICHU, 3/F, H Queen’s Building, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

Contact details: +852 2477 7717

This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by ICHU in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.   

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Delish Eats reviews here

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