Peter Lew (Fei Jai, Barrio Cellar) and his wife Nicole Galloway reclaimed the old Hugo’s site opposite where their restaurant Barrio Chino used to be. There they opened Chula – a seafood-focused Mexican restaurant with a fresh, light menu.
Raw prawns come out sliced and fanned out like sashimi, drizzled with lime juice and salt. Pink scallops are sandwiched inside tostadas with LP’s Quality Meats chorizo. Whole, de-boned snapper arrives bubbling from the 500-degree Celsius Jasper charcoal grill – spoon the flesh into corn tortillas.
Hailing from Mexico City, chef Alvaro Valenzuela draws on the north and south – reimagining snacks he’d devour back home with his grandmother after school. One of his fondest memories is the Mexican street-food dish tlayudas, from Oaxaca. It’s like a crunchy pizza with a corn masa base.
Designed by Joshua Clapp (Steel + Stitch), the space was modelled on a typical grandmother’s house in Tulum. Earthy tones of wood and terracotta are softened by pinks, sunken lounges, linen and agave plants.
A square bar divides the room, with stools facing the counter where chefs rhythmically slice fish and bartenders shake Margaritas. Above is a shrine that resembles a balcony with treasures from Mexican travels. To the right is the best table in the house: flanked by cacti and a low-hanging wicker lamp.