I came to know Jason Nanka and Lorena Valdivia quite well over the past year. They reached out to me through social media well before they opened their Lima restaurant, Nanka in La Molina, and we continued to stay in touch. I exchanged emails with them probably at least once a month and met with them on two occasions at Nanka.
I have probably visited more Peruvian restaurants outside of Peru than anyone on planet earth (it’s debatable, but maybe inside of Peru too). In most cases I am left disappointed. The primary reason is the lack of access to high quality ingredients, primarily aji chiles, as well as proper substitutions for limes and other fruits, though at times, the entire concepts may seems off. That is not the case at Ricardo Zarate’s Mo-chica in Los Angeles.
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.
When he was a child Giacomo Bocchio saw Javier Wong, cook in his Lima restaurant. He then wanted to be a chef. Wong has that effect. He now says Bocchio could be the best chef in Peru, if not the world. Wong always thinks in those kinds of terms.
London has not, at least thus far, caught on to the Peruvian restaurant boom. That is about to change. In 2012, four new Peruvian restaurants are set to open in various parts of the city.
Peruvian Food is becoming a global phenomenon. The culinary scene in Lima and the rest of Peru keeps improving. Food festivals, such as Mistura, are expanding. Young chefs who have trained in top kitchens in North America and Europe are returning home to open restaurants. In the same regard in North America and Europe Peruvian chefs are being called upon to a greater degree to launch new restaurants. Gastón Acurio is not holding back on his expansion plans. Culinary ideas are being refined from every angle. Here’s what to expect from Peruvian food and restaurants in 2012.
Though Peruvian food in New York City has seemed to suddenly have become a fascination among culinary minds with the opening of Gastón Acurio’s La Mar in September of 2011, there are dozens of Peruvian restaurants in the five boroughs. The sleeker, trendier ceviche centric restaurants are primarily in Manhattan, though in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and parts of New Jersey where the Peruvian immigrant community mostly resides options for pollo a la brasa, ceviche, and even chifa are plentiful. Here is a run down of New York’s best Peruvian restaurants.
While has Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio has opened more than 30 restaurants around the world, few have been as big of a test as the branch of La Mar that is set to open in New York City this September.
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 James Beard Award 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:
For the past few months I have been pushing the NYTimes travel section to do a story on Peruvian chefs in the Amazon, but they had some similar story waiting to run. In last weekends travel section I discovered what that story was. Jay Cheshes, whose food writing I admire… Read More →