Last Updated on September 25, 2021
Ayllu provides a sophisticated eating experience with good music, innovative cocktails, and an exciting menu.
Located underground below Smith’s Grill in Paddington Basin, Ayllu is a plush venue with an exciting offering of Peruvian-Japanese fusion. The restaurant offers sharing plates, freshly made sushi and an exciting range of drinks spanning the continents. On the night we attended, a DJ kept the Latin tunes going and the beers on tap were Kirin and San Miguel. With a well-thought-through menu from ceviche to cocktails, Ayllu provides all the ingredients for a great night out in the Paddington area. Ayllu takes its name from the Ayllu form of community which has a long history in the Andean region. The Ayllu worked the land together and shared belongings and meals. The restaurant takes from this its sharing ethos, and the plates and drinks here are designed to be shared between those at each table. Ayllu offers a Nikkei tasting menu, bottomless brunch, a wide selection of desserts and an a la carte menu.
On our arrival to Ayllu’s launch party for the new Nikkei brunch menu, we were warmly welcomed by attentive staff and taken to our table right next to the bar. We enjoyed the aperitif of miso aubergine with sesame seeds served on a light cracker. The aubergine was both sweet and salty with the umami flavour from the miso.
We were then visited by the cocktail cart where before our eyes our Cubano cocktails were prepared with great flair. The spectacular presentation of the refreshingly sweet cocktails right by our table was an exciting, theatrical interlude to the meal including fire and smoke, and we enjoyed the tropical flavours of pineapple and passionfruit.
A bowl of avocados and tomatoes was then brought to our table as the guacamole was also prepared freshly for us in a smart black mortar bowl. Alongside, we enjoyed excellent small tortilla crackers. Baked rather than deep-fried, the crackers were shatteringly crisp and an excellent tool to scoop up the guacamole.
The ceviche served with lime juice had both a tropical taste and a chilli spice, whilst the salad mix of raw sea bass and cooked octopus, also marinated with lime and crispy corn kernels was vibrant, tangy, and fresh. The red onion too offered a satisfying crunch, and the salsa flavours created a dish with much to offer. The ceviche rolls were an exciting twist, and I enjoyed the combination of the white fish, avocado and tigers’ milk mayo. The edamame was charred on the outside and well salted.
The mains at Allyu are generously portioned and offer excellent options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. The black cod was marinated for 48 hours and, served with ginger and bok choi was excellently presented. The fish fillet was tender and full of flavour. The rack of lamb was marinated with Anticucho Nikkei and served with cassava crumbs and bright chimichurri. Anticucho is popular Peruvian street food, the origins of this dish dating back to the pre-Columbian era and adapted during the colonial era in Peru between the 16th and 19th centuries.
My vegetarian companion was very happy with the quinoa vegan poke served with mango, edamame, shimeji mushrooms and chilli and poke sauce. It was a colourful array of healthy food which was beautifully arranged. The other vegetarian option, carapulcra, was a cazuela (traditionally a dish served in a cazuela earthenware bowl) with diced potatoes and included 100% cocoa chocolate alongside truffle, aji panca (a Peruvian red pepper), cinnamon, clove and basil. As the description suggests, the flavours were bold and exciting to eat.
From the dessert menu, the unique texture of the mochi is one to look for, and the melon sorbet had the authentic flavour of the fruit and brought the meal to a refreshing end. In amongst the wide range of new eateries now available in the Paddington Basin, Ayllu continues to impress.
25 Sheldon Square
London W2 6EY