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Astrid y Gastón | Lima, Peru | Jan ’14 | “the 20 year retrospective”

20 Mar
  • Old Address: Cantuarias 175, Miraflores District 15074, Peru
  • New Address: Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro, Lima 27 – Perú
  • Phone: +51 1 2424422.
  • Price (after tax + tip, excl. drinks): > $100
  • Courses: (20 main/22 total): 1 amuse, 1 bread, 16 savory, 4 dessert
  • Rating: 14/20
  • Value: 2/5
  • Dining Time: 240 minutes
  • Time/Course (total): 11 minutes
  • Chef: Diego Muñoz (Mugaritz, el Bulli, Royal Mail Hotel, Bilson’s in Sydney Australia)
  • Style: Peruvian
  • Notable: First fine-dining restaurant to focus all the way back in the 90’s on Peruvian food

I think this 20 year retrospective menu, which AyG only served in the last month of their operations in their old address, in January 2014, was one of the more memorable meals I had partaken. (They’ve since moved to the Financial District of Lima, in a new space called “Casa Moreyra”.) Was the food great? In all honesty, not really. There were no eye-opening combinations, nor any dish I thought was excellent (i.e. 5/5), though I remember the liquid nitrogen chirimoya dessert (like styrofoam pillows), and the peking cuy (guinea pig). Puzzling was the chifa dish that was just a fried piece of fish and puffed rice in oyster sauce. “Sole meuniere” was just a slab of plain fish. Chicken liver, an ingredient pinched in taste compared to its fowl-ier brethren, was presented without embellishment. Purely gastronomically, I had much better experiences at Central and Maido.

But it seemed almost beside the point. The food was secondary to the story-telling. The special menu was a celebration of the history of the restaurant. The constraints were clear: the kitchen was going to select a dish from each year, and feature it as a 20 course menu. From there, they wove a story about how a French restaurant in an unstable Lima, eventually found its voice championing the native dishes of Peru, and set up branches all over Latin America and Spain. How they became more experimental over the years, especially the dessert courses. It was interesting to see the evolution of restaurant before our eyes, told through 20 courses.

It seemed purely experiential, the evolution of a restaurant told in 20 dishes. While I didn’t fully enjoy the gastronomic side of it, it appealed to the sentimental side of me. Since it seems churlish to criticise a special menu working under a stringent set of constraints, below I present the menu and photos without further explanation, so you can take my place tableside.

Other Notable Links: Spanish Hipster write-up on the El Viaje menu, the year-long menu directly preceding this, planned together with Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana.

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The side alley in Miraflores

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Voyeurism

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To the right, the waiting area

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Dining room

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The kitchen, helmed by Diego Muñoz.

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We arrived early, by Latin American standards. (8pm, most guests started filling the room at 9pm)

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Cholopolitan

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Cono de Mango

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Panes

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1994: Foie Gras Times
Apple, grapes, port, chicken foie.

July 14th 1994. French revolution.
The restaurant opens its doors with a sign that said:
Astrid y Gaston Restaurant.
Haute cuisine.

It was time for morels,
and foie gras.
They were different times.

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1995. Tartare Times
Artisan bread, beef tenderloin, bone marrow, smoked yolk, herbs

Astrid leads.
The freshness of her 20 years conquering it all.
The bar, dining room, tables, dishes, like a dance.

Her dance.

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1996. The debut of the Tuna
Tuna, tumbo, oriental salad

Something new starts
to beat in 1996.
The beef, the sole
they couldn’t agitate
the heart as they used to.

Winds of change.
We could feel them come.

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1997. The a lo pobre that wanted to be entrecote
Black beans, sweetbreads, banana

And suddenly, hidden between goose
and grapes, the tacu tacu made its entrance

Fearful, confused.
not knowing if he would stay.

2014-01-04 22.55.30

*meeeeep~~*

2014-01-04 23.04.40

1998. Duck tasting
Cured, rillettes, confit

We were always taught
that the kingdom of the duck
was in France.

No-one told us his place
was also among the Mochica.

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1999. Ingredients get an ID
Free range egg, “Huacho” sausage, quinoa, and asparagus.

Mother earth. Land of the water, the sun, the wind and fire.
Together they transform the products.

They create life.

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2000. Down to Chile
Sole menieur, hazelnuts.

We were ignorant
of so many things.

We could only feel.
We felt we could share our dream.

That we were at last ready.

2014-01-04 23.35.11 2014-01-04 23.38.302001. A voyage across the World
Shrimp melcocha

Like our own love story,
Peru and France finally transformed into a single plate.

It was time to fly, to discover, to dream.

2014-01-04 23.47.48 2014-01-04 23.54.30 2014-01-04 23.54.362002. Preparing the Land
“Chupe” rice, corn and lobster

One never knows why things occur.
They just do.

Ideas align, words lose meaning,
everything falls into shape.

Everything finds its purpose.

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2003. Revelation
Causa de pallares, paiche, “charapita” chilli.

But something was missing.
Something deep, meaningful,
irreplaceable.

A voyage across
the Peruvian territory.

Drink from its past,

feel its present,

visions of the future.

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“Playboy for the hormonal New World crew”

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2004. Culinary adventure
Pulpo al cilindro

And the adventure started.
Ancient faces,
ancient people,
nothing was left out.

The peace of knowing
that in the kitchen
there are no hierarchies

2014-01-05 00.26.032005. Peru as doctrine: 500 years of fusion
Chifa style fish

To discover oneself.
Take off our masks
and feel the joy
of belonging to a place and time.

The joy of being free.

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2006. From Peru to the World
Street food ceviche

And with freedom comes trust,
dreams, forwardness.

Free we could conquer hearts, fearless,
without the heavy fear
of the dark alley.

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Finished.

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2007. Peruvian cuisine, a movement.
Goat, watercress and roasted onions

Fear, vanity,
disbelief were left behind.

By ourselves are no-one,
together we are heaven.

We were cooks,
we became a movement.

2014-01-05 00.59.41“Shadowplay”

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2008. Mistura
Peking cuy

How to build a bridge
between the countryside
and the city?

Between kitchen and tables?

How to celebrate together?

Mistura.

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2009. Pachacutec: The dreams of the youth
Suckling pig, sweet potatoes and Andean herbs.

The kitchen can become a window for our dreams.
We just have to open it.

2014-01-05 01.18.13 2014-01-05 01.19.20 2014-01-05 01.20.08 2014-01-05 01.19.292010. Peruvian cuisine as the Ambassadors of our country
Suspiro loco

The voice of Peru sounds different.
In its tone we do not find violence nor fear.
Her new voice provokes, seduces, agitates.

2014-01-05 01.24.36

2011. A new challenge with new blood
Chirimoya Alegre

It has been a long journey since
Behind we are held by an army of youth,
firm and steady march.

It is their time.

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2012. Story Telling
Sensitive sphere

Experience and youth, savour the future.

To tell stories.

Through our kitchens, stories are born.

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2013. The farewell
Beso de Camu Camu,
Sable salado
mango vainilla,
Formula 44
Sol y Somba

Cafe finca “Tasta”
de Edith Meza Sagarvinaga
Satipo Junín

The end of a lifetime.
20 years of love and battle.

A new life and home await for us.

So much to be thankful for.
So much to give back.

2014-01-05 02.02.23 2014-01-05 02.03.20

End

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Malabar | Lima, Peru | Jan ’14 | “Amazonian”

18 Mar
  • Address: Av Camino Real 110, San Isidro 15073, Peru
  • Phone: +51 1 4405200
  • Price (after tax + tip, excl. drinks): $140
  • Courses: (10 main/ 13 total): 1 amuse/1 bread/8 savory/ 2 desserts/ 1 mignardise.
  • Price/Main Course:  $14
  • Rating: 13.5/20
  • Value: 1/5
  • Dining Time: 97 minutes
  • Time/Course (total): 11 minutes
  • Chef: Pedro Miguel Schiaffano
  • Style: Peruvian / Amazonian

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Malabar is a bit different from 3 other renowned restaurants I visited in Lima (Astrid y Gastón, Maido, and Central). Strangely, none of the waitstaff speak English, so it was off to the races with my halting Spanish to comprehend the dish explanations. One can only imagine that this is a deliberate choice on the part of chef-owner Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, since during my lunch at Amaz (his more casual twist on the Amazonian concept, located in the upmarket Miraflores district) two days earlier, there were plenty of waitstaff who could speak English.

Another difference about Malabar was that it was the only one of the four in the San Isidro financial district, about 5km away from the Miraflores district.

While Malabar’s food was pleasant enough, I have to confess that reflecting on the meal 2 months later, no tastes really stick with me. It was nicely plated, but no one dish grabbed the stomach or made me remember the food besides that it was quite pleasant. Having had no immersion at all in this cuisine and its ingredients, I was running based purely on taste and smell. If one could eat with one’s eyes, this would be great cuisine. I have faith that the ingredients sourced here from the Amazon (which Chef Schiaffano leads a vanguard) are all very rare, but the concept of this restaurant seems to be first a showcase parade of unfamiliar ingredients brought into elegant visual forms, presented to the diner experimentally, to see which Amazonian ingredients are a hit with gourmands. I ended up appreciating Schiaffano’s gastronomic project to support conserving the Amazon ecosystem and culture, much more than the direct gastronomic results themselves.

For a better version of this type of Peruvian terroir cuisine, I would recommend Central over Malabar, which had at least 3 very memorable dishes.

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Menu

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————

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‘Mugaritz-style’ stone potatoes.

This is a very labour-intensive carnival piece. Each potato is baked with flour water brushed on top, 3-4 times each to get the desired stoney effect. For pure whimsy this dish was a home-run. This dish is the infamous stone potato of Mugaritz restaurant in Spain. – my Tapas Molecular Bar write-up.

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Pisco Sour

Malabar is known for its Pisco cocktails. This was a great afternoon drink. The most memorable part of the meal for me.

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Bread

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Queso de castaña: Flores de jengibre, tomates confitados y congonilla (4.25/5)

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Taidai de pescado con jugo de tumbo, mastuerzos y tobiko (4/5)

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Yuca: Mojo de naranja agria, fariña, tapioca y masato (4.25/5)

[Cassava: Mojo sour orange, farina, tapioca and masato ]

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Huatia de papa: Papa cocida en su tierra, charqui de alpaca y quinua negra (4/5)

[Huatia Potato: Potato, their land, jerky alpaca and black quinoa]

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Octopus, Pepper, Seaweed (4.5/5)

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Paiche en aji negro: Habitas regionales guisadas y maduros (3.75/5)

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Escolar en adobo: Cebollas de trenza y camotes crujientes (4.75/5)

The most remembered dish of that lunch – a spicy sambal-like covering around the escolar fish. I feel it is a bit facetious to serve the escolar in such meagre portions, but such is the tyranny of the tasting menu – would it not have been better served in a large portion, family-style? (I’m going off my experience with sambal stingray in Singapore, best served in hearty portions).

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Puca picante de costillar de res (4.5/5)

Tasty and pliable to the knife.

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Chirimoya, plátanos manzanos y yogurt orgánico (4/5)

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Cacao: chocolates nacionales (4.5/5)

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Dulcecitos

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A spicy sweet.

Central | Lima | Jan ’14 | “Peruvian terroir, art on a plate”

20 Feb
  • Address: Ca. Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores, Lima – Perú
  • Telephone: [511]242-8515 / [511] 242-8575 | Email: reservas@centralrestaurante.com.pe
  • Website: http://centralrestaurante.com.pe/
  • Hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday, 1-330pm, Dinner: Monday-Saturday, 8-1130pm
  • Price (after tax + tip, excl. drinks): $120
  • Courses: (8 main/13 total) 2 amuse / 1 bread / 6 savory / 2 dessert / 2 mignardises
  • Price/Main Course: $15
  • Rating: 19.5/20
  • Value: 5/5
  • Dining Time: 140 minutes
  • Time/Course (total): 11 minutes
  • Chef: Virgilio Martinez (also proprietor of Lima in London, and another upcoming in London. ex. Lutèce (NYC), Can Fabes, Astrid y Gastón), Pía Leon (ex. El Celler de Can Roca)
  • In Own Words: “My food is very visual, to me landscapes, feelings, romance, emotions are very important. I believe that my cuisine is very close to nature but in an artistic way.” [1]
  • Style: Avant-garde Peruvian/Amazonian
  • Notable: Rated by an influential local guidebook as best restaurant in Lima; platings are works of art.

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Rating: 19.5/20

The Chef. Chef Virgilio Martinez’s fame precedes him. In the last year, he has opened a restaurant in London (called Lima), and he has another restaurant in Cuzco, gateway to Machu Picchu. An advocate of Peruvian cuisine worldwide, he is only 36 years old, and Central has been reviewed by Lima’s foremost dining guide (a little red book) as the best restaurant in Lima. Previous to opening Central, he worked at Lutèce (New York); Can Fabes (Sant Celoni, Spain), and served as executive chef at two restaurants of the Astrid y Gastón restaurant chain (prevalent in the Spanish world), in both Bogotá and Madrid.

You know what, I spent some time in Madrid and in Barcelona 10 years ago. After awhile, I went back to Peru and I saw more calm in the city. In the gastronomic sense, it was just okay, it was good. I had this epiphany when I went to Southeast Asia and I saw how people were very proud of street food. That really inspired me to go to the very unknown parts [of Peru]. So I got to know these parts, and I got to know all these ingredients. When I saw 200 ingredients that I’d never seen in my life, I was like, okay we have to do something with this because this is just amazing. And then we started to do the research on recipes with those ingredients. That was my personal motivation to go back to Peru and do my thing. – Virgilio Martinez

Two Visions of Peruvian Haute-Cuisine. Of the four high-end restaurants and menus I visited in three days in Lima, I could split them into two kinds – the first as Peruvian fusion (Astrid y Gaston’s [AyG] 20 years menu, Maido’s Nikkei menu); and the second highlighting Peruvian terroir (Central, Malabar, more casual: Amaz). I felt that the first type of Peruvian fusion haute-cuisine was not as enjoyable for me – it was almost as if I was being treated to a menu by committee, where disparate elements (Chinese shortrib and glutinous rice at Maido, Peking cuy and cannoli at AyG) were being put on my plate just to punch home the point that Peru was a cultural melting pot of Spanish, Italian, Incan, Chinese and Japanese immigrants. As if the presence of diversity on the menu was more important that the way tastes could unfold on the menu. In almost all of the cases, these “affirmative action” style dishes flopped. Fried rice with cod and oyster sauce does not a good dish make, AyG. The “affirmative action” trap is an all-too-common one that fusion restaurants fall into. The fusion restaurant gimmick: Ingredients from culture A are mixed with ingredients/preparations of culture B to produce a decent dish, but one in which the ingredients are replaceable, and there isn’t an essential reason to mix those two cultures. Very few fusion dishes follow an inner logic of the tastes themselves. A good rule of thumb seems to be: if fusion results in a dish that is merely interesting, don’t serve it. In the past year I could count on one hand the fusion dishes which were brilliant (sake-souffle at RyuGin, and Pejerrey Tiradito at Maido off the top of my head). Even at Maido (a restaurant I enjoyed very much), the only fusion dish which was essential was the tiradito; the other fusion dishes were well-executed but forgettable; and the chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) style dishes were consistently the weakest parts of the menu at both AyG and Maido.

I much preferred the Peruvian-terroir type restaurants. I learnt while researching Lima’s dining scene that there was a deviant strain of terroir-restaurants called “Amazonian cuisine”, attributed to Pedro Schiaffino of Malabar and Amaz. While I enjoyed both Malabar and Amaz, I felt that Peruvian-terroir took a big step up at Central. The flavors here were more precise and complex. It also has a larger canvas to play on – while a big part of Central’s ingredients comes from the Amazon, but it also encompasses all elevations and climes.

“Scientists have calculated that there are thirty-four types of climatic zones on the face of the earth. Peru has twenty of them. ‘In Inca Land one may pass from glaciers to tree ferns within a few hours,’ Bingham wrote, still astonished years after arriving.” – Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Mark Adams.

The Food. The menu I had was called Mater Uno. It has been expanded to about 18 courses now, but remained at about 13 courses when I visited in early January. The most memorable tastes were (1) the cut chirimoya fruit with cocoa – the chirimoya had the texture of pineapple with the taste of soursop; remarkable; and (2) the cushuro cyanobacteria with mashed frozen potato. The chefs at Central plate with painters’ brushes. In their hands, elegant paintings appear on our plates, feasts for the eyes. Occasionally the dining experience crosses over into didactism, where native Peruvian ingredients are placed on our plate just because the average diner has zero familiarity with them, and Central is trying to educate us on their provenance. But I always found the tastes precise, calibrated, with no flavour overwhelming the dish. Even though the food was unfamiliar, the tastes were balanced.

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MATER UNO

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SEA: Seaweed Calamari (4.5/5)

Ceviche style.

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COAST: Native Corn (4.5/5)

Intense corn taste.

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AMAZON: Spicy Root (4.5/5)

Yacon (a sweet water chestnut-like root) smeared with a bit of charapita spicy pepper.

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ANDES: Tuber Chamomile (5/5)

Camote (Andean sweet potato) that tasted like apple pie.

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Special mention for the bread service goes to the “butter” (5/5), which is actually hardened butterscotch that is made solid. I ate a lot of it after taking this picture.

2014-01-06 22.46.07

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SNAPSHOT OF THE SEA (5/5)

Scallops, Kañihua, Tumbo, Borrage [10 mbmsi]

Raw scallops coated with kanihua (mountain grains); tropical fruit notes from the tumbo (banana-passionfruit sauce).

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2014-01-06 22.56.31

COASTAL INTERACTION (5/5)

Octopus, Purple Corn, Olive, Limo Chili [500 mamsi]

Perfectly roasted octopus, in a purple corn “corn-somme”.

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WATERS OF THE LOWER ANDES (4.75/5)

River Shrimp, Sacha Inchi, Native Herbs, Chia [1200 mamsi]

The nutty and salty river shrimpes were paired with raw, verdant native herbs and chia. It was a complex composition, no taste dominating.

2014-01-06 23.18.12

EXTREME ALTITUDE (5/5)

Frozen Potato, Cushuro, Mullaca Root, Paico [4500 mamsi]

This may have been the best dish of the night. Sour and springy cushuro (a type of cyanobacteria, which I also had the previous day at Maido), paired well with the mild taste of mash potato. It was a joy to crunch through the springy cushuro (which had a touch of turmeric taste) . Paico is a herb that starts off anise-tasting, and ends up minty.

2014-01-06 23.18.36

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RED JUNGLE (3.75/5)

Arapaima, Airampo, Huito, Hearts of Palm [800 mamsi]

The Amazonian arapaima riverfish is considered a delicacy for producing boneless steaks; here it had a savory ham-like texture. airampo, a cactus fruit stained the fish. Huito, charred on top, had a nutty almond like taste.

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ALTIPLANO AND LAKE (3.25/5)

Lamb, Kiwicha, Tarwi, Chamomile [3800 mamsi]

Okay. Cheese taste from (chamomile?) cubes overpowering.

2014-01-06 23.57.24

PURE AMAZON (4.25/5)

Bahuaja, Huampo Wood, Maca Root, Taperiba [500 mamsi]

Huampo root, boiled down (the green puree) had a menthol slightly limey flavor. Bahuaja nut, the central mass, was like a nutty semifreddo. Maca root crisps provides a taste of Froot Loops on the outside of the Bahuaja Nut; Taperiba formed the olive-colored gel.

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MOUNTAIN RANGE AND FOREST (5/5)

Cacao, Coca, Chirimoya, Chaco Clay [2500 mamsi]

I loved this dish. I had chirimoya desserts at Borago, Gustu, Astrid y Gaston; but this took the cake. Chirimoya was served simply as the main dish; a fruit with the texture of pineapple and the taste of soursop. It was served simply with chocolate-coca soil. Simplicity.

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SOLAR INFUSION

Cullen, Stevia, Macambo, Lemon Verbena [1200 mamsi]

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Notable Links:

Maido | Lima | Jan ’14 | “Nikkei delight”

5 Feb
  • Address: calle San Martín 399 (esquina: calle Colón), Miraflores, Lima, Perú
  • Telephone: (511) 446 – 2512
  • Website: http://www.maido.pe/index.php
  • Hours: Lunch: Mon-Sun: 1230pm-4pm. Dinner: Mon-Sat: 730pm-11pm.
  • Price (after tax + tip, excl. drinks): $135
  • Courses: (15 main/15 total) 13 savory / 2 dessert
  • Price/Main Course: $9
  • Rating: 18.5/20
  • Value: 4/5
  • Dining Time: 95 minutes
  • Time/Course (total): 6 minutes
  • Chef: Mitsuharu Tsumura
  • Style: Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese fusion)

2014-01-05 14.37.44

Twiddling my thumbs on a lazy Sunday in Lima, when all the major restaurants seemed to shut down all at once, didn’t appeal to me. With a bit of scheduling jujitsu, I decided that the optimal way to partition my three precious days in Lima before I went to hike Machu Picchu was:

  1. Astrid y Gastón on Saturday dinner (it was not open on Sundays and Mondays)
  2. Maido for Sunday lunch (most permissive of the major restaurants)
  3. Central for Monday dinner. Later I added Malabar for Monday lunch.

Of the four major restaurants I went to in Lima, Maido and Central were the ones that left the greatest impression. There are two menu options are Maido, the Japanese set menu, where the restaurant conjures up an authentic Japanese experience, and a Nikkei menu, a Japanese-Peruvian fusion menu. While I’m sure Maido would have served good Japanese, I wanted something a bit more unique to the city – so I took the Nikkei menu option.

“Nikkei” is a term that means the Japanese diaspora. Peru is of course one of the countries with the largest and most prominent Japanese diaspora – former President Alberto Fujimori was the first leader of Japanese descent of a non-Japanese country, and helped to crack down on the Shining Path, which only two decades ago terrorised the cosmopolitan playground of Miraflores with a truck bomb. Today Miraflores is an semi-autonomous district in Lima, with its own tourist police force, 5-star hotels, and an excess of casinos. Its self confidence finds its way into some of the best food in South America, with Astrid y Gaston, Central, Amaz, and Maido all located within a tight 2km area.

Something that was interesting to me was to hear Japanese being spoken at least half the time amongst the chefs. This gave me an foreshadowing of the authenticity, discipline and precision that chef Mitsuharu Tsumura instills in everyone at the restaurant. The chef, I’m excited to report as a Providence-resident, studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, and then apprenticed at an Osaka sushi restaurant. He returned to Lima, and worked at the Sheraton Lima – until he was 28, when he struck out to create Maido. – [biography]

There were many standout dishes. The best was a liquid nitrogen ceviche tiradito, which was unforgettably served in a petri-dish. In every dish, I felt precision in execution, as if the flavors summoned in the chef’s mind, was being transmitted directly to my tongue, through precise technical skills honed by repetition. I’m a fan. Maido’s a must-visit when I next return to Lima.

Rating: 18.5/20

Memory: Pulpo al Olivo, Pejerrey Tiradito, Bahuaja, Temaki Sushi

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“Nikkei Experience – The Third Reality”

“Life is movement. Nothing is static or absolute. No one is. We are in a state of constant flux, just like the Earth, the tides, bacteria, light, the blood in our bodies, colors, seeds. Like family trees, cuisines are constantly being redefined, their identities enriched by an intense intercultural exchange which has formed the basis of all civilization ever since humans shared their first sounds, products, ideas, and customs. Fusion cuisine is just that: cooking, an inclusive word that perfectly encompasses it all. The fireplace is where bloodlines merge, where people come to sing, individual and group histories are forged, life gestates. The fireplace is where dialogue is fostered, the elements meet, opposites attract. Thus was born Peruvian Nikkei cuisine: from a complex history called Peru; and another, equally complex, far-off and foreign history called Japan that merged to live in harmony and create the third reality: Nikkei Cuisine.” – Mitsuharu Tsumura – Josefina Barron

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The menu is cutely shaped like an olde Japanese passport.

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1. Pulpo al Olivo (5/5)

Grilled octopus, botija olives tofu and crispy black quinoa

Brilliant. Perfectly grilled octopus, crisp, warm, tender. Olive tofu. Cold. Textured by crispy quinoa. All three ingredients played their part.  A single bite, very harmonious.

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2. Hassun (4.25/5)

Whelks in soy sauce with kiuri and apple sorbet – Southern squid, wakame, Porcón mushroom in two textures

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Southern squid, wakame, Porcón mushroom in two textures

This was very good.  A visual pun on maki sushi, where instead of green seaweed wrapping white rice, we have a strip of white squid wrapping around wakame seaweed. Served amidst mushroom paste on a mushroom chip.

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Whelks in soy sauce with kiuri and apple sorbet

The sweetness ice of apple sorbet made the whelk almost dessert-like.

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3. Nikkei Ceviche (4.25/5)

Cabrilla, clam, camaron, tobiko, crispy yuyo

Especially enjoyable was hunting down those last bits of tobiko (flying fish roe) in the ceviche sauce.

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4. Paracas Scallop with Maca (4.5/5)

Paracas Scallop, maca emulsion, fukujinzuke, kimpira gobou

A fukujinzuke (Japanese vegetable pickle medley) soil with succulent scallops.

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5. Pejesapo Sandwich (3.75/5)

Steamed bun, pejesapo, tartar sauce, creole salad

A fairly ordinary sweet bun sandwich. Citrus notes.

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Liquid Nitrogen. Foreshadowing.

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6. Cuy-san (4.5/5)

Cuy confit with molle pepper, chilled harusame noodles with sanbaisu and rocoto.

Cuy, the infamous guinea pig, here is confit, packed into a spring roll, and served with a simple sweet dish of cold noodles. Appetising in its simplicity. Garnished with a single corn leaf.

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“Tree” times a charm

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Ceviche sauce with nori, chalaca, shichimi, cancha

This was a dish that was all the good and great of Maido’s clash of cultures. From Peru, ceviche sauce was cooled with liquid nitrogen in a mixing bowl, and put with nutty toasted corn (cancha). Slivers of pejerrey fish were served tiradito style, thinly sliced – the tiradito style itself being an offshoot of sashimi. Finally, topped with a Japanese 7-spice powder. Brilliant. A knock-out dish.

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8. Nigiris from the Sea (3.75/5)

Deep fried rock fish nambazuke – Smoked mackerel with yellow chilli, onions and masago

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9. Rice Tamale (4/5)

Banana leaf, smoked nitsuke style bacon, cocona pepper

This was reminiscent of many Chinese dim-sum lunches I’ve had over the years, so much that I thought (and still suspect) it’s a chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) style dish. A single cross-section of savory tamale, crested with a bit of heart of palm.

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The encounter of Chupe de Camarones and Chawanmushi

Sweet seafood surrounded by egg-custard chawanmushi. A pleasant seafood sweetness seeped into the chawanmushi.

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11. Nigiris from the Earth (4.5/5)

Cylinder duck – Crispy panceta – Outside skirt Wagyu aged for thirty days A Lo Pobre

Well-executed.

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12. Gindara Pancayaki (4.25/5)

Gindara marinated in miso, panca chilli and yellow chilli, camotillo potato cream, crispy leona potato, Pachacamac greens, purple corn powder

Sablefish (gindara), if I remember correctly, tastes like cod. A quieter protein. Roast corn was done perfectly, like the octopus in the first course.

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13. Estofado Nikkei (4.25/5)

Nitsuke braised short rib, white fried rice with cecina and benishoga

Another quieter dish, here nitsuke – a sweet braise – performed on beef, with fried rice, reminded me of the Asian home cooking I grew up with.

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14. Bahuaja (5/5)

Milk, ice cream and crispy “castaña”, mango, cranberry, cushuro, mochi

A sublime dish. A sweet milk ice-cream with an array of delicious ingredients. No ingredient outshined the other – but the most curious was “cushuro” –

Known by its scientific name, Nostoc commune is a type of cyanobacteria, more commonly known as “blue-green algae,” although it’s not exactly blue-green in color nor is it a true alga.

These bacteria form colonies of spheres which measure 1 – 2 centimeters (0.4 – 0.8 of an inch) in diameter. The spheres are soft and watery and glow in the presence of ultraviolet light. Their green pigmentation is due to the presence of chlorophyll; their blue pigmentation due to the presence of phycocyanin. Additionally, the presence of phycoerythrin, a reddish pigment, in combination with the other pigments, explains why some are more brownish in color.

Cyanobacteria can be found in diverse habitats around the world, aquatic or terrestrial, and are characterized by their tolerance of extremes in temperature and conditions. They are capable of remaining dormant for long periods of time and can abruptly restart their metabolic activity upon rehydration. They are capable of carrying out both photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation, nitrogen fixation meaning that they take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a form that we can utilize, a precursor to amino acids and proteins.

Nostoc commune is only one of the world’s edible varieties of cyanobacteria. Another, for example, is the “facai,” consumed in China during the time of festivals. This is the Nostoc flagelliforme(Takenaka et al, 1988) which grows slowly in the desert regions of northern and north-western China. – source

Cushuro was one of the most wondrous discoveries of my gastronomic travels in South America. It’s textured like a tender bubble-tea pearl, and tastes like mild earl grey tea. Maido perfectly incorporated it in a “Treasures” themed dessert.

The origin of the name “Bahuaja“. Another write-up from Comosur:

Micha followed the contemporary Asian dessert with a dessert named after an Bahuaja Sonene National Park, the rainforest in the southern part of Peru known for its wealth of biological diversity and, in more recent years, evidence of indigenous groups that have avoided contact with the rest of the world. The dessert used cashews in a variety of forms – as ice cream, milk and crunchy sprinkle – as the base, adding mochi, cushuro and tapioca infused with camu camu.

Some of those words evading you? Mochi you may know as the squishy rice dough that is often wrapped around ice cream and available at Japanese restaurants. Cushuro is a fascinating green bacteria sphere that grows at higher altitudes in parts of Peru. They have little to no flavor but feel like a mix between tapioca bubbles in bubble tea and caviar. Camu camu is a cherry-like fruit that is native to the Amazon, in this case the Peruvian Amazon. It is gaining attention for it’s supposed anti-oxidant properties. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the new acai in the near future.

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15. Temaki sushi (4.75/5)

Nothing is what it seems. The seaweed is chocolate. The rice, is strawberry cream. And those salmon roe… dessert pearls. Whimsical.