I went to the best Peruvian restaurant in the world
Lately, I have had the feeling ceviche was becoming the new sushi.
Most of you probably know what is a ceviche, but for the ones that haven’t yet the chance to experiment it, the ceviche is originally a dish from the coasts of Pacific.
The Peruvian one is made from raw fish marinated with lime, garlic and fresh coriander. In Mexico, they add fresh chili and in Ecuador onions and tomatoes.
During the 19th century, Peru faced a wave of immigration from Japan, ending today with the openings of "Japanese Peruvian" fusion restaurants in some parts of the world.
Milan got hit first by a Nippo-Brazilian wave. Some japanese restaurants started to propose "brazilian style" sushis with caipirinha cocktails. Temakinho is the most famous example.
But recently, a Nippo - Peruvian trend have been emerging on the "socials" of the city: still raw fish specialization but with a twist of Peruvian influence. The main dish is ceviche, it comes declined in different versions and served with Pisco Sour cocktails.
We keep the same imagery: raw fish = low calories / ethnic is trendy. And ceviche is even better as there are no carbs (no rice as for the sushis).
I asked myself why Peru became so famous in the gastronomy world.
And the answer I got it's probably thanks to people like Gaston Acurio. This chef, after getting trained in France came back to his country and decide to develop a forward integrated restaurants system to support the local economy and promote the local products.
Do you know how many type of potatoes exist in Peru? And at which altitude they grow ? It is said there are more than 4000 types and that they grow until 3500 meters !!! Can you imagine the difficulty to grow ?
Gaston Acurio has opened several restaurants around the world, contributing to the Peruvian cuisine spread. I read recently is about to open a restaurant in Paris.
But he’s not the only Peru ambassador. This year, Virgilio Martinez got ranked 4th best restaurant in the world in San Pellegrino best 50’s ranking. I guess his baby face and his skateboarder past are nice add-ons to support the communication around this phenomenon. Though, I ‘d like to underline I saw him during an EXPO 2015 conference and his “quest” to discover new indigenous ingredients on which he applies modern cooking technique is quite a credit to him, besides he seems to be a really humble person.
A couple of months ago, I went to London and booked a table to a Japanese Peruvian fusion restaurant in Soho: its name was Chotto Matte. What can I say, except the experience has been pleasureful. I loved the combination of fresh coriander, raw seafood, tostaditas and papas, without mentioning the show performance. A bit expensive though; but London is known to be expensive.
So when I heard that Pacifico, based in Milan, had been named best Peruvian restaurant according to Arriba Peru magazine, I checked the price and decided to go there...
Pacifico interior design has been designed with taste and is neat: petrol blue armchairs, brass structures, black table. My only comment ? They probably decided to go for a too dark illumination. I "hate" when you don't see what you eat, that the colors of your dish are fading away.
My food experience ? A bit disappointed from a price/quality ratio perspective.
The ceviche was good but definitely too spicy and we were not even informed upfront. I was litteraly crying while eating, without saying the chili was covering the taste. In addition, there was few fish and too many chewy squids.
The tataki of tuna was good, but nothing special.
But above all, the total price went higher than the first assumption I made while checking on internet.
I'd like to mention though, we haven't tried the typical traditional plates, maybe it has been our mistake. The best part I guess has been the pisco sour, I could have drunk 4, I stopped after 2 ...
Honestly, in a country like Italy, where raw fish is amazing, I prefer to go to a fish restaurant and spend the half of it for the same quantity. I understand it’s trendy to combine mixology with dishes but I would say : "depend on the price". For example, if one day you're in the same area, go to officina del pesce, the interior design is awful ( I could metaphorically burn the tablecloths) but the fish is great.
What I preferred the most, after the pisco cocktail ? Well, the bathroom, if you go there once, don't forget to go to the toilet. OK, it's probably my interior designer side speaking...
Chotto Matte in London :