Mallika Basu creates the ultimate restaurant bucket list for those heading to Lima, with a little help from her friends in Peru
Tiradito at Le Mar in Lima
Theres more to Peruvian food than ceviche, and its capital is literally brimming over with restaurants that pay homage to the countrys explosion on the internal food scene and diverse cuisine. So where to get a taste of the best of what Peruvian food has to offer? Heres a first class list of Limas best restaurants from Peruvians in the know.
Japanese Peruvian fusion, Nikkei cuisine is the delicious legacy of the Japanese who immigrated to Peru in the early 19th century. The place to go is Maido, the name of which the staff cry out in unison to welcome diners. Think octopus carpaccio with tomato and garlic, and warm sushi topped with freshly blowtorched quails eggs. Chef Micha made it into the San Pellegrino list of Latin Americas best restaurants and its easy to see why. If you dont get a table, Osaka also comes highly recommended.
This is Peruvian Chinese. Easily recognisable with their signature typically ornate red and green fronts featuring dragons, these restaurants serve personal and familiar family portions of liberally seasoned specialities. The best restaurant in Chinatown is Chifa El Salon de la Felicidad, but if you fancy something smarter try Chifa Hou Wha. Arroz Chaufa or Fried Rice, Pollo Chi Jau Kay, crispy battered chicken fillets in oyster sauce, and Taipa a La Plancha, vegetables and meat stir fried in a peppery soya sauce are must orders.
For Amazonian cuisine
Rich in tropical fresh vegetable and fruit bounty, the taste and texture of this cuisine is like nothing else in Peru. The place to visit to get a taste of the jungle is Amaz. Here Chef Pedro Schiaffinos Hen Inchicapi, a creamy soup flavoured with peanuts, yucca, coriander and turmeric, and fragrant Bijao leaf stuffed parcels of chicken and herbed rice linger in the mouth and memory long after the meal is complete. Dont forget to try one of the ice cold, freshly squeezed tropical fruit juices.
Jungle fried rice with chorizo and beans at Amaz
For Comida Criollo
This is typical food from the coast and central parts of Peru. The grilled beef heart skewers, or Anticuchos, are a must try and celebrated superstar chef Gaston Acurios Panchita is a buzzy family friendly favourite with locals and well worth a visit. To sample some of the other delights, like Rocoto Relleno, red chillies stuffed with sauted mince, and moreish Olluquito con Charki, Olluco root vegetable chips sauted with beef jerky, do as the locals do and head to a vast Sunday buffet with a hungry belly. I would highly recommend El Seoro de Sulco, followed by a long and leisurely walk down the Costa Verde.
Ricotto Relleno at El Seoro de Sulco
It would, of course, be criminal to visit Peru and not sample ceviche. This national dish of fish and seafood cured in tangy limes and bit of chilli is traditionally served with camote, sweet potatoes, choclo, giant corn, and the all-essential tart leche de tigre or tigers milk, the marinade fused with the juices from the fish. Gaston Acurios La Mar cevicheria reigns supreme, drawing in the smart Peruvian set. Try the Polpo, or grilled Octopus, and Boat of Causa, mashed yellow potatoes with various toppings here. For a more regional affair, head to the long standing Fiesta for delicate hot ceviche from Chiclayo (they also do a signature melt-in-the-mouth tender goat meat Seco, or green herbed curry).
Grilled octopus at Le Mar
This list is by no means exhaustive, theres Pollo a la Brasa or grilled chicken and chips at La Panka. You could also head out to family friendly Don Cucho or Chaxras Pachacamac about 90 minutes from Lima for Pachamanca, a celebratory Inca meal of meat and potatoes baked with hot stones in a hole in the ground. And of course wash it all down with national spirit Pisco cocktails Chilcano or Pisco Sour or a bottle of artisan Quinoa beer.