VANCOUVER — Modern Peruvian restaurant, wine and cocktail bar Suyo recently opened its doors in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.
Led by chef/partner Ricardo Valverde, who named the restaurant after a South American Indigenous word that means “homeland,” Suyo honours Valverde’s family heritage and country of birth. After moving to Canada from Peru at the age of 18, he was quickly drawn to the world of fine dining and subsequently worked in some of Vancouver’s best kitchens, including Blue Water Cafe, Cin Cin, and Ancora. Valverde is joined by industry veteran James Reynolds as general manager (La Buca, Blue Water Cafe, La Regalade); award-winning bar manager Max Curzon-Price (Botanist, Clarendon Cocktail Cellar U.K.); and tech entrepreneur Felix Ng as director of Operations. Together, these four have cultivated a menu and ambience that makes for a first-of-its-kind experience in Canada.
The 49-seat restaurant (formerly the home of Slickity Jim’s Chat ‘n’ Chew) is a modern South-American oasis complete with lush jungle greenery, natural-wood detailing, and a golden bar evoking the importance of gold in Incan history. The elegant main room is complemented by a 20-seat private ‘Nazca Room’ tucked away in the back. The space features artwork inspired by Peru’s Nazca Lines, a group of pre-Incan geoglyphs etched into desert sands. The whole space was designed by Evoke International Design, and both rooms can be booked for private events.
When crafting the menu Valverde paid homage to classic Peruvian dishes, while also highlighting the many global influences in Peruvian cuisine, including Chinese-Peruvian, also known as Chifa; Japanese-Peruvian, also known as Nikkei; as well as Italian and Spanish. It’s a menu well-suited to a table of share-plates to feast upon, and diners can expect to see familiar South American ingredients (quinoa, dulce de leche) with the lesser-known (aji hot peppers, lucuma fruit), as well as a twist of the unexpected (crispy nori, quail eggs), all complemented by high-quality produce, choice cuts of meat and sustainably sourced seafood. In an important step towards waste reduction, the culinary team repurposes kitchen scraps whenever possible, re-incorporating them as ingredients in syrup infusions and garnishes.
As for the dishes themselves, modern Peruvian shows itself in bold flavours and textures, with the menu led by, though not limited to, a range of seafood offerings. Highlights include Nikkei Tartare with steelhead trout, crispy nori, cucumber, avocado and aji Amarillo pepper; Aji di Gallina Ravioli (a take on the creamy Peruvian chicken stew) with parsley oil, Grana Padano, cashew nuts, and black truffle; Short Rib Seco with white beans, endive, chicha de jora and modernsalsa criolla; Sudado de Pescado and more; as well as a selection of fresh ceviches.
Meat-free options include Summer Squash Tiradito with charred tomato, quinoa pop, corn leche de tigre; Ensalada Rusa, made of avocado, beets, young carrots, green beans and smoked aioli and a Cauliflower Steak served with quinoa tabbouleh, chickpea pepian, chimichurri and charred carrot. To finish, a selection of desserts includes the King Kong, made with pineapple compote, sable, and whipped dulce de leche, and the Chocolate Tres Leches topped with strawberries and whipped, caramelized honey.