Are you feeling a bit peckish? Perhaps if you listen carefully to your belly, you can hear a hungry growl. In Japan, the sound an empty stomach makes is called Peko Peko (isn’t it awesome that there is a word for that feeling?), but you don’t have to be ravenous to want to devour every last bite on offer at the newest and most conceptual of restaurants in the city, Peko Peko.
Passion, pleasure and enthusiasm are known to be stimulated with the glow of orange red light in color therapy, and the restaurant itself is stripped bare of any excessive decoration except for this glow of the neon one-of-a-kind eponymous sign stretched overhead and hanging above the diners. Painted brick walls with a visible vent pipe keep the interior minimally industrial and deliberately so, the only thing you have to focus on is the food.
Like the dishes themselves, the concept of this restaurant is multilayered, nuanced and extremely well thought out, but the aesthetic of simplicity is deceiving. Be prepared for a gastronomic sensation when you eat here, it’s not only the colored light that will stimulate you but also the careful curation of the menu.
The idea of creating an east-Asian concept came about because the Chefs loved to cook this kind of food but did not want to be limited by a themed restaurant. They were determined to have the freedom to play around and offer the highest quality experience which means a fluid, Chef-driven menu that is subject to change.
They wanted to explore their own take on various dishes from across Asia while incorporating influences from their own culture, experiences, travel and training. Both Chefs are graduates from Cordon Bleu with Abdullah training in Paris and Tokyo and Tareq meriting a two-year Grand Diploma degree from Cordon Bleu London followed by professional training in London.
The Chefs have learned to execute a number of complicated and advanced culinary techniques which are then presented in what looks to be the simplest of dishes but the experimental flavor profiles combined with the perfect textures for each dish will have you exclaiming delight with each mouthful.
To start with came the Baby Gem Salad. This seems to be a millennial favorite, searing lettuce, but with good reason. The char is beautifully offset by the citrus sweet of the mandarin segments and the sharpness of the apple ginger dressing all working together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
The picture keeps building and the grill keeps working its wonders with the Avocado Corn Salad. We deliberately didn’t toss this salad to try the full flavor of the Hikiri Lemon Yogurt dressing. Piece of advice: delve under the baby arugula and go straight to the bottom layer with a spoon and make sure you have plenty kernels of corn on there too to get the full taste sensation. This salad is beyond moreish.
You’ll discover that most of the dishes are addictive, because these two cousin Chefs have discovered the art of the sixth taste, Kokumi. Often called ‘savory’, the sixth taste can be described as “hearty” a depth that comes from, for example, aged cheese or slow roasted meat, boiling broth for 12 hours instead of one or two, delivering greater flavor.
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Next to sample came the Tuna Tataki, marinated in six spices, seared and rested upon an elegant scraping of labnah and Salmon Carpaccio. Both thinly sliced and delightfully prepared, the beetroot vinaigrette on the salmon keeps it fresh and flavorsome. But the star of the fish dishes has to be Cali-wearing Orange.
This bold deconstruction of the California Roll has not a crab stick in sight and replaces the seafood element with instead spicy tuna tartare and seared salmon. The entire thing must be popped into your mouth so you can feel and taste everything at once. It feels like luxury with muted layers of texture, the sushi rice being moist and soft like a team player in the game and not just a surface on which to present the fish. A mini slice of lemon sits atop the concoction like a crown; the flavors are resplendent in this dish and the plate has to be physically removed from the table to stop us eating the lot. We have eight more dishes to try!
Three kinds of gyoza arrive beef, prawn and chicken each with its very own distinct recipe. What they all did have in common was the expert way in which the dumplings were first steamed and then fried, not overdone but just right, providing the dumplings with an enjoyable al dente feel. These gyoza must all be tasted to be believed but the most surprising is the chicken. Wrapped up with foie gras, it’s the coconut curry that keeps adding layers of flavor here. The prawn gyoza revels in a creamy lobster stock which is so delicious because of the unlikely addition of rich Parmesan.
Next, we tried what can only be described as the Asian equivalent to a classic carbonara. A noodle dish with Karaage style prawns where you cut into a runny fried egg and toss the lot mixing creamy, yolky goodness with the Sichuan cream sauce. Perfectly hearty for colder nights this is pure comfort food.
To add a bit of spice to the delights, we were tasting the Koji fermented chicken skewers (see featured image above) which woke us up a bit after our noodle-induced coma, with the red chilli salsa packing a punch but with a slow delivery so you feel the warmth envelope, you like the softest of cashmere scarves. We couldn’t refuse the nearest thing Peko Peko has to a burger and even the one bazaarite currently living carb-free took the first bite of the Katsu Sando, which features panko breaded chicken breast nestled on toasted brioche, multi-layered and slathered with a divinely secret sauce.
Moving on to dessert; the simply described Fudge Brownie couldn’t be further from the truth. Premium cocoa powder is the base of the richest of chocolate fondant filling you’ve ever tried, topped with a Matcha ice cream that cuts through the sweetness of the brownie. Sweet and bitter, this dessert will please everyone who tries it.
The most controversial of desserts finishes the evening. The scandal comes from the influences that can be faintly detected as you savor each bite, is it crème brulee, bread pudding, is it Om Ali? The Miso Caramel Pudding is the ideal combination of all three, with the burned sugar crack of the topping giving way to a crème Anglaise soaked brioche. This is possibly the most moreish item on the menu and it was hard to not finish it completely despite having eaten our way through most of the Peko Peko dishes on offer.
At once delicious, unusual, familiar and yet entirely new this encompasses all that Peko Peko is about. Conceptualized through a passion for creating dishes that satisfy all the senses, and bazaar is looking forward to experiencing everything these talented Chefs have to offer. The carb-free life can wait, right?
Peko Peko can be found in Kuwait City, follow them on Instagram @eatpekopeko for the latest updates and click on the link in the bio for the Google Maps location. Open daily from 6 pm – 10 pm.