With impressive views across the piazza from atop the Market Building, and a striking interior (more South American flair than Japanese simplicity) with moody low lighting, plush seating, potted trees and a plant-filled ‘living’ ceiling over the bar, this is a casual venue that takes its service – attentive, friendly and courteous – seriously. A good choice for a buzzy date night or group dinner, or as a pre-theatre/post-shopping pit stop.
What’s the food like?
The à la carte menu breaks down into snacks, small plates, raw (ceviche and tiradito), robata (Japanese charcoal grill), large plates (to share), ‘samba rolls’ (fusion sushi rolls) and desserts.
All our dishes were beautifully presented, but the pick of the bunch on our visit were the yellowtail taquitos (mini crispy tacos filled with delicate morsels of fish, creamy avocado and a touch of sweetness from roasted corn miso); perfectly plump, lightly crisped wagyu gyoza; and melting kanpachi tiradito (Peruvian raw fish) elevated by a tangy yuzu emulsion.
If you’re hungry, the Churrasco Rio Grande is a sizzling hot plate to share, loaded with sliced chorizo, ribeye and picanha – the latter, a Brazilian cut of beef, most delicious of all, perfectly pink on the inside, well-seasoned and charred on the outside, with a sliver of sweet fat lining the edge (and a beautifully fresh chimichurri is the pick of the accompaniments).
Avoid the misjudged El Topo samba roll, though – the salmon has a decent jalapeño kick, but the melted mozzarella topping is all stodge and the crispy onions too oily.
For dessert, go for the Mazamorra, with its gorgeous maíz morado (purple corn) pudding and thick, creamy rice pudding ice cream.
And the drinks?
There’s a creative cocktail list – we enjoyed the refreshing, herby, citrussy Shiso Fine, vodka infused with shiso leaves, crème de pêche, Thai basil syrup and crème de cassis.
The engaging sommelier is more than happy to suggest wines by the glass to match your courses – we advise you go with his recommendation to finish the meal with a delicious, palate-cleansing digestif of fragrant, semi-sweet Tsukasabotan yuzu sake.
olive tip: When the weather warms up, book a table next to the terrace, where the glass panels will slide open on to the piazza for some rooftop al fresco dining in the heart of the capital.