We were still hot on the trail of the top restaurants in Lima, even after our Central experience. Next up was Astrid y Gaston – we tried our same tactic of showing up and hoping, but still couldn’t get in for the tasting menu. However, we did score a seat at La Barra, the a la carte part of Astrid y Gaston.
They brought out the wine list in this swanky little envelop, and I kinda felt like I’d won some kind of award. And the prize was wine!
We had an appetizer of langostino, which was delicious. And then got the roasted suckling pig to share – unfortunately, it looked and tasted sooo delicious we failed to get a picture of it. #foodcriticfail
The flavors and dishes were spot on – from the appetizer of spiced olives, to the langostino to the pig. I wish we had gotten to do the tasting menu here, I’m certain it would have been out of this world!
Another day we went to another of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants, La Mar Cebicheria, and it may be our favorite restaurant in Lima! It’s not in the awards list, and is much more casual, but completely surpassed our expectations. Starting from the variety of native potato chips with three sauces, and Cancha Salada (it’s a special kind of Peruvian corn that has really large kernels, they roast and salt it. You can squeeze lime over it, or dip it in hot sauce, or just eat it by the handful) the flavors were awesome!
We decided on the ceviche tasting and Causa tasting. Each ceviche was completely different, but super fresh and interesting. The Causas were my favorite though. I really shouldn’t be sharing this on the blog, because I have a secret plan to start a restaurant in the states that’s all about Causas – it’s gonna be the next big thing!
Causas are these amazing little appetizer dishes made of layers of mashed potatoes, and in between the layers it’s filled with things like avocado, onions, chicken, tuna, crab… you name it.. then topped off with a sauce that compliments. There are hundreds of varieties, but they all taste amazing. It’s like a super fancy potato salad sculptured and filled with the best ingredients. Ours at La Mar included one with crab and langostino, avocado, a savory/sweet passionfruit sauce and another with tuna and salmon tartar, wasabi and a crispy nori topping.
To finish it off at La Mar, we had octopus two ways. It was remarkably tender, and I just couldn’t stop eating the version with an olive sauce.
Bummer is, we didn’t even bring the camera to this most extraordinary meal, so no pictures… unless we go back again before we leave Lima, which is a very real possibility.
Anyway… on to the next stop in our foodie tour… we went to Maido, another restaurant on the Top 50 restaurants in the world list.
We actually got a reservation for this one through our hotel – Score! We’re big time now! …or so we thought. We arrived to learn that we did get a reservation, but not for the tasting menu, that had ended 15 minutes before we arrived. But never fear, I’m a determined foodie, and they made the mistake of putting the tasting menu list of dishes in the a la carte menu… so we proceeded to recreate it ourselves (our server was less than thrilled with this, but obliged)
Maido features the signature Lima fusion of Peruvian and Japanese, “Nikkei” – so lots of raw fish was on order. Every single piece was delicious! The sushi was incredibly fresh and well prepared – we particularly liked the octopus and the tuna. My favorite dish of our experience there was the Nuevo Ceviche, it was beautiful cuts of raw fish, but instead of being marinated in a lime juice sauce, it came dry then tableside had a powder added to it and stirred in that gave it a wonderful smoked yellow pepper and light citrus flavor. It was much less sweet than the typical ceviche (which I’ve found to be really quite sweet here in Peru). It was crazy delicious and truly innovative… sadly, the picture does not do it justice at all!
We also tried out the 48-hour braised short ribs and they were everything you could hope for! The meat fell apart, but wasn’t greasy, just buttery. We almost ordered it again for another course, it was so good! Oh sweet meat perfection!!
I typically wouldn’t order ramen at a place like Maido, but it was on the tasting menu, so we went for it. And it was truly excellent. And we finished it off with a clever little dessert they called “Ceviche”, you can see the resemblance. It was a variety of tropical fruits, both fresh and crispy freeze dried, ice cream and a citrus sauce. Again, delicious!
There were quite a few other courses that we really enjoyed, each well thought out and well executed. I would definitely say Maido was worth it!
We had some other incredible meals at less well known places. Like our sushi dinner at Osaka. The straight up sushi was the win here – I would say it’s the first or second best salmon nigiri I’ve ever had (a very authentic little spot in Vancouver being the competition).
We also had a superb dinner at AmorAmar, which was our super backup choice on our first night here, but turned out to be one of our favorite meals in Lima. I’m always partial to a place that blows you away with an amuse-bouche.
We still have a couple days here in Lima and I’ve got big plans to explore the “hole in the wall” food scene, especially the anticuchos.
So despite hiking for about 20 days of the last month we’ve spend in Peru, I think I’ve managed to gain weight from my six days in Lima! At least it was for a worthy cause – Peruvian food is amazing!!