While ceviche was likely born in Peru and traveled up and down the Pacific coast of South America and into Central America, few realize that is actually quite common in the islands of the South Pacific. While preparations vary considerably from island to island, the flavors of the Pacific Rim are clearly evident. One in particular: coconut milk.
While Tiradito is a Nikkei invention (Japanese Peruvian), it’s not only a Nikkei dish anymore. Tiradito is served in some form – usually several – in nearly every cevicheria in Peru. A cousin to ceviche, tiradito is more thinly sliced, much like sashimi.
With more Peruvian restaurants in New York City comes more Peruvian cocktails. With more Peruvian cocktails comes more happy hours at Peruvian restaurants. Here are my recommendations.
Javier Wong, the chef owner of Chez Wong in Lima, is one of the most legendary chefs in Peru. His restaurant isn’t fancy, far from it. It’s in one room of his house, in the rough and tumble district of La Victoria not far from a line of auto repair garages. There’s no menu. He serves a ceviche, always using Pacific sole; enormous ones.
At La Perla, Peruvian chef Carlos Accinelli who learned his trade in the kitchens of Lima and Spain at the Michelin-starred Basque restaurant, Arzak, works closely with owner and manager Roberto Carrascal to ensure the menu gets a facelift as regularly as the petite diner’s stylish interiors. There’s no shifting the stars of the show though. Neither the classic Ceviche Corvina (sea bass ceviche) or the Lomo La Perla, a sirloin steak served with a Roquefort-laced sauce served on a bed of creamy mushroom rice, are showing signs of going out of fashion any time soon.
Recently there has been some debate about the spelling of ceviche. In Peru, ceviche is generally spelled either cebiche or ceviche. Cebiche with a B is more typical in Lima, though with a V is more common nationally and especially internationally. Some think it should be spelled with an S, as Seviche. I don’t. Here’s why.
Nikkei restaurants have been on the rise in Lima for the past several years. The Peruvian-Japanese fusion spots are home to some of the most technically skilled chefs anywhere in Peru, though with the addition of sophisticated restaurants such as Central and Manfiesto in recent years they have been overshadowed. That is about to change. Hajime Kasuga, you know him from his work at Hanzo, a Nikkei restaurant that was exported to Santiago, has opened this week his new restaurant: H, or Ache.
I imagine that wherever someone like Gabriel Garcia Marquez lives, the neighborhood gets better. Sitting down at a table at La Cevicheria in Cartagena’s old walled center, just beside the famed Santa Clara monastery (now a Sofitel), a clown comes by making squeaking noises. He squeaks when a van drives by as he acts like he is keying the side of it. He squeaks wedding music to a couple dining at the table next to mine, then sprays a string of fake ketchup from a red bottle on the girlfriend as she screams…then laughs. Soon three kids, no more than ten years old, rap for two minutes about Colombia. Then a neatly dressed maid walks by with a Dalmatian. She smiles. So does the dog it seems.
Freddy’s bar at Orient Express’ Maroma Resort and Spa on the Riviera Maya seems a little bit out of ordinary compared with the bars of the neighboring resorts. While Corona and fried chicken wings are being served elsewhere, Freddy’s has a Tequila and Ceviche Bar with more than 100 tequilas paired with a daily variety of six exotic Ceviches created by Executive Chef Chef Juan Pablo Loza.