There’s a place behind every story, and the place behind our SS ‘17 women editorial is - believe it or not - a small Peruvian fast food spot called King Kong. We met up with founder and chef Pierre Lefèvre to know more about the extraordinary journey that led him to Peruvian food and the creation of a true urban jungle in the heart of Brussels.
It seems like Pierre had already lived 10 different lives when he decided to dive into the King Kong adventure along with the Peruvian architect Diego Carrion, his current associate. After owning a comic bookshop*, a restaurant dedicated to mushrooms**, another one just across the street*** and managing the Bozarshop, he followed Diego on an initiatory trip to Lima to taste and learn about the local cuisine.
*Schlirf book ** Café des Spores *** La Buvette
« Diego told me “Let’s go!”, he bought the tickets and we left for Lima to taste the local cuisine »
For over a month, they tried out every restaurant in the city, following local chefs from the markets to their kitchen to learn about the products and their best recipes. It was the only way for them to get the essence of EL GUSTO – the real Peruvian taste.
« I gained 10 kilos in only one month. We were doing nothing but eating! »
The idea was to open a fast food restaurant like the ones in Lima, serving fresh products and qualitative food. Only one question remained… What to call it? The answer came in a supermarket in Peru when Pierre came across a dessert called “King Kong”. “Funny name for a dessert” he thought… Although it didn’t taste good, Pierre decided to keep the monkey’s name for his own restaurant.
Diego Carrion designed an environment for the name: an exotic yet modern jungle made of wooden walls, mirrors, hanging plants, retro lamps and of course, the vintage Emmanuelle armchairs. There’s a strong imaginary behind such iconic chairs, a sort of fantasy. The movie “Emmanuelle” immediately comes to mind for most people.
« I’ve seen clients taking their shirt off during service to take pictures imitating the movie poster! We love the spirit it’s creating so much we could’ve called the restaurant “Emmanuelle”. »
Considered to be one of the greatest in the world, Peruvian cuisine has grown rich from innumerable influences over more than 500 years. Colonies, invasions, revolutions have all contributed to the development of the unique flavors of Peruvian food – EL GUSTO. Inspired by Asian, French, Italian, Portuguese culinary classics, locals have simply replaced the original ingredients with their own products.
The principle of Peruvian cuisine is based on 3 different sorts of chili peppers, each used in very precise dishes: the Aji Limo, essentially for ceviche, the Aji Amarillo for meat dishes, and the Rocoto, bigger in size, but quite robust.
However, if Peruvians are fond of the chili pepper’s taste, they dislike its spiciness and resort to elaborate techniques to lessen it. The result is a nice-tasting flavor close to sweet pepper.
« We always have to take all the chili beans out and blanch the peppers 3 times. It’s a lot of work. »
THE CHEF’S FAVORITES
Ceviche is so deeply rooted in Peruvian culture it’s been declared to be a “national heritage”. This cold dish is composed of fresh raw fish, marinated in lime juice, aji, coriander, and onion. The fish is cooked in citrus juice and accompanied by sweet potatoes and toasted corn.
Another iconic Peruvian dish is “La Causa”. This traditional meal used to be sold on the streets to support and finance the revolutionary cause (hence the name). It’s made of chili pepper and lime potato purée, topped with avocado, meat or fish, and a small salad of onions marinated in lime and coriander.
The last must-try at King Kong is definitely the Pollo a la Brasa: the specialty of the house! It’s roasted chicken, marinated in a special marinade and baked in hot ashes. Served with a huacatay sauce, no cutleries are needed to enjoy this butter soft chicken.
Little by little, King Kong is evolving from a fast food to a table-service restaurant. Pierre and his team are developing a slightly different menu with new recipes, inspired by the Peruvian classics with a modern touch!
+32 2 537 01 96
Chaussée de Charleroi 227