Pedro Peña & German Sitz
Unmissable entrance: Set in Buenos Aires’ buzzing Palermo Soho district, the journey to this restaurant begins with locating the giant baby-shaped balloon that marks its location – a playful reference to its name, which means 'chubby boy' – although the queue of guests eager to secure one of the hottest seats in town may also give it away.
Eastern interior: Inside Niño Gordo, expect to be greeted by a technicolour of red-hued decorations. Asian design motifs saturate the space, ranging from traditional lanterns suspended from the high ceiling to traditional paintings decorating the walls. Inspired by the owners’ trips across Asia, the resulting package is a love letter to the continent, with their own favourite elements cherry-picked and combined into a single restaurant.
What’s on the menu? Matching the aesthetic, a small-but-mighty kitchen, led by Colombian-born chef Pedro Peña, delivers a menu that marries traditional Argentine culinary technique with the flavours of east and southeast Asia. Think pristinely grilled rib-eye steaks, served with rice, wakame (seaweed), lettuce and ssamjang (Korean soybean sauce), or grilled lamb accompanied by peas, grapes, mussels and wasabi. Dishes are fast and fun, pooling inspiration from a wide gamut of Asian cuisines. Wash down the courses with one of the excellent cocktails, such as the Manuelita La Loca, made with whiskey, vermouth, soju, bitters and gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes).
About the chef: Prior to opening Niño Gordo in 2017, chef Peña and business partner Germán Sitz were already established as the Buenos Aires culinary heavyweights behind butcher-shop-turned-parrilla La Carnicería and elevated choripan outpost Chori. Both eateries are located on the same street as their Asian-inspired sibling, cementing their status as kings of the road.