Despite its name, Llama Inn in Shoreditch has nothing to do with the charming camelids. It’s a Peruvian restaurant tucked away in an alley and perched atop a Hoxton rooftop. Llama Inn first found fame in New York in 2015 and has now made its way to London, offering a menu brimming with South American and Peruvian flavors, along with a touch of Nikkei influence.
Flavors That Stick
The menu is a whirlwind of tastes – expect ají rocoto pepper, choclo corn, and caucau (tripe stew), as well as dishes infused with furikake seasoning and yuzu kosho. Each bite is a rollercoaster of sweet, sour, soy, mayo, and nutty umami pastes. While some are delightful and others intriguing, one thing is constant: dining here can be a tad heavy on the wallet, given the Hoxton location.
For a restaurant that had a clear, hip New York identity, Llama Inn London maintains an understated, mature dining space. Although it might have received some renovations since its Italian restaurant days, it retains a touch of elegance. The music is livelier, featuring artists like Chaka Khan and Mos Def. The cocktail list offers creative concoctions like the “YaYo hipsters” and the “chupetini – make it a supertini.”
Sharing or Not Sharing
The service is friendly, but there’s a recurring theme: sharing. The staff emphasize that everything is meant for sharing, yet sharing Llama Inn’s crispy squid ceviche or zucchini caucau can be a bit tricky. The crispy squid ceviche is essentially deep-fried squid rings with a sweet corn-based sauce, and the zucchini caucau is a soup with a roll. Sharing a bowl of soup and a roll can be a rather intimate affair.
The Star Attraction
The lomo saltado, a Peruvian twist on a Chinese beef stir-fry, is an intriguing concoction. It involves well-done fried meat, soy-based sauce, oyster sauce, beef broth, and a generous helping of spring onions. The dish is garnished with a vivid orange mayo, served with spring onion pancakes, rice, and chips. While the dish itself was a peculiar mix, the chips were a standout – thin and triple-cooked for a crunchy delight.
In a Nutshell
Llama Inn in London is a fusion of flavors that offers a unique dining experience, although it’s best suited for those who don’t mind sharing their culinary adventure. And remember, no llamas involved.