Your Next Peruvian Culinary Adventure Awaits at Pachamama London

My formative introduction to Peru came through Paddington bear, who migrated to London from its deepest darkest corner and famously has an addiction to marmalade sandwiches. 

Some 30 years on, and I now know the only similarity between Paddington’s staple diet and true Peruvian cuisine is a heavy use of citrus. 

Fusion is the common denominator in Peruvian food, thanks to the diverse heritage that saw Spanish invaders, enslaved Africans, Italian, Japanese and Arabic immigrants relocating to its shores. I’ve always found a culinary collision of countries thrilling. Anyone that’s tried a steaming bowl of miso butter spaghetti, a crusty bánh mì or a spicy kimchi cheese toastie will tell you that sometimes the foodie rules are there to be broken. So when I was invited to one of London’s best-loved Peruvian restaurants Pachamama, I leapt at the chance to experience an evening of fusion food in W1.

In the past few decades, a slew of Peruvian eateries have arrived in London and Pachamama is heralded as one of the best. With two locations; one in Marylebone and one in Shoreditch, there’s a branch on either side of the City, and we booked into the former. If you love Peruvian food, then you might want to try this Peruvian Beans Recipe.

On the balmy June evening, Marylebone was alive, with punters spilling out of pubs onto pavements and restaurants overflowing with hungry city-slickers. Beneath the pavement, down an unassuming flight of stairs, lies the subterranean world of Pachamama; candle-lit, cosy, with a vibey playlist.

The clientele on the night was an advert for all the types of parties Pachamama caters for – from intimate first dates to groups of friends passing round sharing plates, and family diners with happy teens tucking into bowls of Peruvian fried chicken. 

The small plates menu at Pachamama is separated into five sections: Snacks, Raw (ceviche), Sea (fish and seafood), Land (carnivorous plates), Soil (vegetable dishes) and Sweets. 

Our friendly waiter directed gave us the tasting menu as his recommendation. It was the culinary equivalent of an Elton John Glastonbury set – a finely-tuned, whistle-stop tour of the best there is to offer. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy Peruvian food’s greatest hits.

The pescatarian menu is £65 PP and comprises nine dishes for the table to share, inclusive of dessert and a Pisco Sour. We ordered this plus a side of Peruvian fried chicken for my carnivorous plus one. 

We started with Padron Peppers which were excellent, with plenty of salt and well charred, followed by one of my favourite snacks – Pachamama’s iteration of smacked cucumbers, which arrived bathed in Szechuan ají oil and sesame. These were less salty and spicier than the versions I binge on from my local Chinese street food restaurant.

My favourite appetizer was the Corn Ribs with ají garlic butter and parmesan. Let me tell you – that addition of the parm was *inspired*. The texture of a corn rib has a satisfying meaty chew, and the coating was nicely spiced, I could eat buckets of these. 

To follow, we were served palette cleansing bowls of citrus-fresh sea bass ceviche and yellow fin tuna, as well as Peruvian fried chicken which my plus one said added a familiar and indulgent street food accompaniment to the delicacy of the ceviche. 

Our favourite dish on the entire menu was something I’d never have settled on, were I left to my own devices – a wonderful plate of rubble-like charred sticky-sweet Aubergine on a pool of cooling smoked yoghurt, finished with a crunchy crushed pecan crumb. It almost felt like a meat dish thanks to the satiating texture, and now holds the title of ‘the best vegetarian dish’ my boyfriend has eaten. 

This was followed by plates of miso cod, and then tenderstem broccoli – both tasty, but not stand-out highlights.

The final flourish of the tasting menu was, however, marvellous. Like Elton’s set-closer of Rocket Man, the Peruvian chocolate dessert with toasted quinoa ice cream rounded things off perfectly. A quenelle of gooey chocolate, rippled with chilli and spices all tempered by milky, nutty ice cream, my mind wanders back to that dessert on repeat.

We loved our evening at Pachamama, everything from the tequila-spiked frothy pisco sours to the friendly and fun waiting staff was perfect. I’d recommend the tasting menu to the uninitiated, so you can sample the great and good of Peruvian cuisine. You won’t be disappointed – unless you come expecting a marmalade sandwich.

Sophie Green

Sophie Green is PR Manager for a designer flash sale website and part-time fashion blogger, having founded her fashion and shopping blog in 2012. Finding a passion for the industry at a young age, Sophie studied Fashion Communications at university and has worked in the industry for over a decade, heading up the PR departments of several fashion and fine jewellery brands. Through her fashion blog she has worked on campaigns with brands including UGG Australia, La Redoute and Headmasters and counts sitting opposite Anna Wintour at the Topshop Unique LFW show as a career highlight! Outside of work Sophie likes to unwind by hitting the gym for a boxing class or ‘researching’ the best G&T’s the capital has to offer. Her fashion obsession is sequins, with an entire section of her wardrobe dedicated to all things-sparkly!