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DAY ONE

Opening night at Paiche, a Peruvian izakaya in Marina del Rey

April 13, 2013|By Dominic A. Riley
  • Ricardo Zarate's Paiche opened in Marina del Rey on Friday.
Ricardo Zarate's Paiche opened in Marina del Rey on Friday. (Ryan Tanaka / Courtesy of…)

Kobe Bryant fans weren’t the only people in Los Angeles on Friday night looking glum. If you didn’t have a reservation on opening night at Paiche, the Marina del Rey Peruvian izakaya from chef Ricardo Zarate, you were in for an hour wait.

The packed 12-seat bar greeted diners upon entering the subtly aquatic-themed space. Every seat was filled, including chef tables adjacent to the open kitchen, which provided a view of Zarate and his team of nearly a dozen carefully plating slices of Amazonian fish.

Paiche, one of the largest freshwater fishes and the restaurant’s namesake, was served simply with an aji Amarillo lemon vinaigrette and sweet potato mousse. Uni topped a shrimp toast dish, shaved parmesan added a salty bite to smoky eggplant, manchego cheese filled a trio of fried yucca beignets, and black truffle accented seared Wagyu beef.

Servers huddled by the kitchen waiting for completed dishes caught the eyes of eager, somewhat restless, diners because some, after waiting for their seats, would also wait a while between courses. But there were plenty of drinks from the bar.

Deysi Alvarez, who crafted Paiche’s drink menu and manned the bar, showed no signs of opening day jitters by maintaining a constant smile as she shook, poured and flecked Pisco sours with angostura bitters (arguably the night’s most popular drink).

Bryant’s severe injury last night may signal the sunset of a famed career, but Zarate’s Paiche could possibly signal the beginning of a renewed dining scene in Marina del Rey.

Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Sunday, happy hour 2:30 to 5 p.m.

13488 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey, (310) 893-6100, paichela.com.

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