Xango (pronounced Chango) is the name of both a Latin spirit of thunder, and this restaurant from Claudio Aprile (Copetin, Origin) and Ivan Bailey (Pick 6ix Sports) serving Japanese-Peruvian Nikkei cuisine.
It's also apparently the name of one of the first Latin American restaurants where Aprile ever worked. Now shuttered, he always liked the name and felt it deserved a second chance.
The two spaces are much more separated than they once were, Xango given its own dedicated laneway entrance.
Illuminated by fun but luxurious touches like an orange fireplace and blown glass chandeliers, a dining room seats 70, a lounge 40, and a private dining room 18.
Tempura shishito peppers actually aren't too pricey at $10, fresh and airy with a delicate batter, subtle saffron aioli and mild powdered pepper dust.
The classic ceviche ($24) is one of a trio of options, composed of rustic chunks of meaty grouper with sweet potato, crispy corn kernels, coriander and red onion swimming in a punchy tiger's milk of citrus and chili juices. Aprile encourages picking up the bowl and slurping.
Shrimp ($22) from a selection of options cooked on the robata grill are marinated in olive oil, garlic and fermented chilli, flamed briefly with Pernod after grilling and plated smothered in more spicy fermented chilli sauce.
A dessert of coffee & milk chocolate + fried sweet dough ($12) is essentially a Latin American bunuelo, a sweet dough rolled wafer thin using a pasta machine, fried to a cracker-y consistency and coated in different spices and sugar.
The coffee and milk chocolate component whips coffee together with aerated chocolate. Topped with freeze-dried raspberries, the dough is meant to be dragged through it: the chocolate is a little thick to accomplish this, and the dough is powdered a bit excessively.
Go for the cheapest dessert at $11, a charred banana torched with sugar and plated with a bright passion fruit sorbet, a little refined rich financier cake, an almond crumble and a base of coconut tapioca, tart yuzu curd ringing the deep bowl. Here, elements combine effortlessly.
To drink, the Everything's Nice in Kyoto ($18) is choc full of Asian influences, based on Roku gin which is infused with a little yuzu, more yuzu juice picking up on that, a cute wasabi pea dust rim and shiso leaf garnish tying everything together.
The Smoke & Sunshine ($18) emulates a sunset both in look and feel, Angostura bitters filtering down over time through a combination of tequila, mezcal, lime and spiced pineapple, garnished with an ostentatious lime wheel and dehydrated bitters-soaked pineapple chip.
Xango falls under the Liberty Group umbrella.