Visiting Peru (gap-yah or not) seems to be all the rage nowadays so hopefully this will be a helpful article for those – of all budgets – who have yet to take the plunge. I visited Lima recently to see family and haven’t strayed far from there so in the absence of tourist attractions to review, I’ll be writing about food – my number one favourite part of travelling.
La Bonbonniere *****
Calle Burgos 415, San Isidro, Lima
Let’s get the awkward and obvious out of the way first: it sounds French, not Peruvian, and yes, it’s a chain. But this popular place is more than capable of bringing on a food-gasm. I ordered an interesting fusion dish Risotto de la Crema de AjÍes con lomo saltado (literally risotto of the cream of chillies with stir fried steak). I assume it was some sort of Italian twist because the dish lomo saltado (tasty stir fried beef, onions and peppers) is usually served with chips or white rice). I in fact found the risotto to be deliciously cheesy, the lomo saltado extremely tasty, with a tantalising gravy drizzled around the edge. Overall a very comforting and flavourful dish. The others at my table ordered salmon and a burger and were similarly delighted with their choices. This restaurant is in a classy neighbourhood and so the price was around 38 soles (£7.96) not including drinks.
Doña Julia ****
Corner of Jirón Huiracocha and Avenida República Domincana, Lima
The story of this place is that it started out as a food stall and grew into the restaurant it is now, still serving food on polystyrene plates (but with metal cutlery). I chose the traditional anticuchos de corazon de res (cow heart skewers) which was lovely, especially with the three types of aji dip which should be enough to set chilli-lovers hearts on fire.
Inside Centro Cultural Peruano Japones, Gregorio Escobedo 803, Lima
This is a Japanese restaurant in the Japanese cultural centre as there is a big Japanese community in Peru – the former dictator President himself was Japanese. If you make the mistake of going for quantity over quality than this place comes down to a 3 star. Our group of four chose a Pack (i.e. a set menu) and not everything on it was brilliant. I ate far too much and ended up with a tummy ache. I’d recommend the makis and some gyozas as I personally don't like a meal that is purely cold. I wouldn’t bother with the seafood rice as it’s basically a glorified chaufa (Chinese fried rice). If you are feeling particularly patriotic you can also opt for some Peruvian fusion dishes such as sushi a la huacaina.
Pedestrian square near Mercado San Bartolo, San Bartolo
I should warn, some of these places are in San Bartolo, a small beach village not too far away from Lima. This was my only taste of ceviche for the whole trip as I’m not a huge fish fan. The ceviche was great and surprisingly more-ish considering its basically raw fish with raw onion. The escabeche (fried fish fillet, served with aji, onion, tomatoes) was so-so and I enjoyed the accompaniment more than the protein itself.
La Jugueria ***
San Bartolo road, between Los Barcos and Mar Pacifico Sur roads, San Bartolo
At least I think that was its name. The perfect place to eat on the cheap, with a two course lunch menu with house soft drink at 9 soles (£1.89). We were running out of money but got a shitty avocado salad for starter (they had run out of causa), good aji de gallina (chilli chicken stew served with white rice) for seconds and a jug of chichi morada (traditional purple corn drink).
Various, Lima, Peru
This is a supermarket chain that serves chilled but ready to eat traditional foods to take away that are cooked in-store. It’s a way of trying Peruvian cuisine dishes when you are broke, at around 4 soles per box. I had perfectly agreeable papa rellena (stuffed potato) and sangrecita (ground black pudding / morcilla), a medicore arroz chaufa (Chinese-Peruvian fried rice) and the frijoles (bacon and beans) did taste a little fishy. I would definitely avoid the empanadas, the pastry was too sweet, the filling too dry and bland.
- REVIEW: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott