Apart from A-Frame’s incredible Peruvian beer can chicken, I haven’t really had the chance to explore L.A’s Peruvian restaurant scene (though fully intend to). So, I’m letting LA Weekly’s Pulitzer Prize winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold do it for me. He’s one of my favorite restaurant critics and going through some of his reviews of Peruvian restaurants I think his understanding of the cuisine quite good. Here what he has to say about L.A.’s Peruvian dining scene in his reviews with the weekly paper:
Chimu – “A Peruvian restaurant is almost obligated to serve a version of pollo a la brasa, the garlicky, well-herbed grilled chicken that may be the most famous dish of the cuisine, but Orellana’s version is unusually crisp, served with a sauce of pureed black mint instead of the customarily fiery aji, and served with french fries and a little cup of the spiced cheese sauce usually reserved for papas a la huancaina….Chimú’s chancho, thick slabs of belly braised then fried to a supernal crunch, is the best dish in the restaurant, smeared with a spicy black-mint aioli and nestled into a bed of barley cooked down with tomatoes. Braised lamb belly with canary beans was almost as good.” –reviewed on 7/21/2011
Mo-Chica – “Zarate’s causa is as carefully composed as any French salad, a cylindrical composition of yellow mashed potatoes smoothed over vegetables and a chunky crab mixture, so that every bite has half a dozen different flavors and textures going on….although a slab of griddle-crisped barracuda, served over a slurry of chick peas stewed with barley and herbs, may be more Cal-Med than classically Peruvian — but with a dab of fiery rocoto-pepper paste or moss-green chile puree zapped with the Peruvian herb huacatay — it might as well be.” –reviewed on 5/27/2009
On Ceviche in Los Angeles: “Both Border Grill and Ciudad have excellent ceviche made from high-quality fish — I’d say the edge goes to the Peruvian-style ceviche at Ciudad… At the Peruvian restaurant Los Balcones del Peru, ceviche is pretty much the specialty: shrimp ceviche; fish ceviche; shrimp, squid and octopus ceviche; and the miraculous camarones a la piedra, a spicy, sharp shrimp ceviche from the north of Peru that is properly served warm. And Los Balcones is a lot cheaper than Nobu.” –from 4/23/2008
On Being Robbed at Gunpoint in Lima – “On one of my walks to a cevicheria, my path was suddenly blocked by a tiny sedan with a little cherry of a red light on top…and the two police officers gestured for me to get in. It was not a pleasant ride. They yelled at me in Spanish, and laughed when I told them I was just going for ceviche. The one in the passenger seat pulled out a pistol, pointed it at my head and whispered, “Boom.” They drove me by a crumbling prison…they patted me down, took exactly $200 from my money belt and let me out in front of what they said was a much better ceviche restaurant than the one I had been trying to walk to. It was the best ceviche I ever had in my life.” –from 5/28/2009
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.