Walsh Bay nikkei eatery Lima was only open for six months before owners Luis Guzman and Hector Chunga realised the location wasn’t right. Four weeks after announcing the closure, the pair return with a Bondi cevicheria and pisco bar of the same name.

“We loved Walsh Bay, but it was a very big site and the foot traffic we expected wasn’t there,” Guzman tells Broadsheet. “For the rent we were paying, it just wasn’t busy enough to stay open.”

The Bondi spot is the polar opposite: a compact 70 seats located on busy Hall Street, capturing the thoroughfare to and from the beach. Inspired by the thousands of ceviche eateries in Lima, Guzman says the concept is more fun, and for the team that’s also behind Peruvian Surry Hills diner Warike, a refreshing contrast to the “seriousness” of nikkei – a fusion cuisine that combines Japanese and Peruvian elements.

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The opening menu is concise, focusing on ceviche, tiraditos (a Peruvian raw fish dish) and causas (a dish featuring layers of mashed potato) – plus a good variety of classic Peruvian hot dishes. Ceviche is served in chunks, with fresh market fish cured with tiger’s milk and mixed with sweet potato and crispy Cuzco corn. Or carretillero-style, with spicy Peruvian chillies and calamari chicharron (fried calamari), modelled off the version sold by ceviche carretillas (carts) that dot street corners around the city.

Tiraditos are another style of ceviche. “Instead of having a lot of juice, the fish is cut in slices and served on top of a sauce made with red, green or yellow chillies,” he says. There’s king fish served on aji amarillo (yellow pepper) tiger’s milk with plum, fennel and quinoa; or bass grouper with rocoto pepper tiger’s milk and cucumber chalaquita (salsa).

Like ceviche, causas – with their potato base – have many iterations. “There are so many ways to eat causa. You can have chicken, octopus, avocado. We’re doing it with prawn. It’s the signature dish of Peru. It’s potato that’s boiled, mashed and mixed with a yellow chilli and shaped into a round, served cold.”

For the last two weeks, Guzman and Chunga have been testing the waters in Bondi, adjusting the food menu and working on cocktails. For now, Lima Walsh Bay’s drinks menu is still on offer along with a small selection of Pisco Sours, but eventually there will be a more extensive list, with each cocktail inspired by the suburbs of Lima.

From the outside, it seems the business partners smoothly closed one venue and reopened another, keeping their staff intact. But it hasn’t been easy. The dramatic fit-out at Walsh Bay, where graffiti murals starred alongside a backlit halo of cherry blossoms encircling the bar, was expensive. For now, the design at Lima Bar is simple. Quipus (knotted ropes originally used by the Incas for record keeping) hang from the ceiling around the bar and there are some Peruvian artefacts in transit – so watch this space.

A fortnight into soft launch, Guzman is feeling optimistic.

“It’s been really good, the past two weekends we’ve been busy with walk-ins only. There’s been great feedback and we’ve had a good confidence boost. This is a new start as we continue to promote Peruvian cuisine and culture in Sydney. The team is the same: Hector is in the kitchen and Warike is going really well, it’s encouraging.”

Lima Bar
Shop 1&2 14/16 O’Brien Street, Bondi Beach
(02) 9319 5454

Hours:
Tue to Thu 4pm–late
Fri & Sat midday–11pm
Sun midday–10pm
limabar.com.au
@limabar_bondi