You know what they say in Manabí: the flavor always kicks in the second time around. Even more so if it at a place like Iche! A restaurant we’d easily return to a thousand times to continue exploring the authentic flavors of Manabí.
Iche has positioned itself as one of this year’s most interesting culinary projects in Ecuador. Not only because of its impeccable new menu (which we will get to in due time), but also because of the true conviction to preserve our Pacific coast’s culinary legacy with the ingredients, recipes and knowledge of our ancestors.
In addition to being a restaurant, Iche also operates as a school, laboratory and “incubator of culinary projects”. Today, a third generation of students are about to graduate. For them, their classroom is not only the kitchen, but the garden as well.
If there is someone who lives Manabí’s traditions to the core, it’s Valentina Álvarez, head chef, teacher and apprentice at Iche. Every dish she prepares in class or at the restaurant is accompanied by anecdotes that reveal a deep-rooted passion for food and her connection to it: her grandmother, conversations beside the stove, the history of recipes from old and ingredients that, sometimes, we didn’t even know were ingredients!
Our mouths are watering!
We were lucky enough to visit Iche at the launch of their exciting, new menu!
For starters, an hors d’oeuvre: cassava stuffed with a delicious pork stew and baked vegetables topped with cheese, covered with demi-glaze and green onions, an absolute treat! If you prefer soup, don’t miss out on the lambada, a shrimp, shell, plantain “raspado” garnished with coconut, chirarán and chilangua leaves… be prepared to be mindblown. Or, why not, the traditional shrimp ceviche with tomato and a citrus emulsion; classic, yet unique.
Discover the “wrap” included in the menu; as Valentina states fervently, they had to honor the “Manabí tradition of wrapping food”! In this case, the wrap (in plantain leaves) is a bollo with tripe. Unheard of, really, decorated with a seaweed stirfry, soaked in citrus and organic pickled radishes. You can also try the meat tataki, which isn’t Japanese at all, as its sauce comes straight “from Jipijapa” with ‘maní quebrao’ (“broken” peanut sauce) from Chone.
In short, if you want to fall in love again with Manabí’s fabulous flavors, from a fresh, conscious, local perspective, this is the place! Just like we returned, we know you will too.
ONLY IN ECUADOR
Cuisine from Ecuador’s province of Manabí is the country’s best kept secret, one of the continent’s oldest culinary traditions, as well as one of the least known and one of the most varied, where unheard of combinations of ingredients create dishes no single great mind could concoct; where ceviche was born; where corn was cultivated for the first time, with such a variety of uses for plaintain that all other food styles pale in comparison…
Photos: Juan Fernando Ricaurte / Andrés Molestina G.
Plan your visit
San Vicente km. 4 vía a San Isidro. Manabí – Ecuador
(+593) 99 800 8986