Ekeko is a god of prosperity and abundance who’s celebrated in Peru and Bolivia since the third century. Today, he is also a mascot for a restaurant in Shanghai. This pre-Colombian Caishen grins over you from a mural near the entrance, he smirks as a poncho-wearing clay doll on the counter. But it’s not cultural appropriation or an unauthorized use of image rights when you taste Carlos Sotomayor’s elevated Peruvian cooking at Ekeko Genesis, which he’s recreating in a style that’s gripped the global food Illuminati in the last few years.
Not that Shanghai lacks good Peruvian food. Eduardo Vargas, a native like Sotomayor, celebrated 15 years of his Latin American restaurant Azul Tapas Lounge in May 2018, and his Peruvian eatery Colca is one of the more throbbing venues at Yong Ping Lane. But Sotomayor, who used to helm Mediterranean restaurant Elefante in the space where Ekeko is today, is serving food that winks at Japan.
It’s a matter of style: Ekeko really wants to sell you their omakase-inspired, six-course tasting menu for ¥488 that changes every month. It’s also cool: around the world, Japanese-Peruvian restaurants such as Maido in Lima and Sen Sakana in New York are having a moment. And it makes economic sense. Ekeko is under the Fulu group, which runs high-end Japanese joints including Sushi Oyama, Anthologica, and Ochobo, and the restaurant has access to the same quality of fish.
That’s why the salmon tiradito (a Peruvian sashimi with sauce) was lively with coconut, green chili, and truffle, and the arroz con mariscos, or seafood rice, had a zinger of a king prawn. I would like to tell you that the scallop was also fresh, but it was cowering under molten parmesan and crispy chorizo bits. These three dishes were from the second iteration of the set menu, but the ceviche off the a la carte section was just as successful, with the red snapper proving melon-sweet and creamy.
The duds were because they arrived with a thud. A striploin cooked in the style of a pachamanca – in the ground, over hot river stones – was served on a park bench only accessible to soaring basketball players, while you had to duck under a plastic cacao plant to get to a chocolate mousse. It may seem excessive, but Ekeko would approve.
20 Donghu Road / 东湖路20号