In Peru, ceviche is eaten with a spoon (South America, Part 1)

Hello, I’m Ruby. The last one to post of the trio here, because I’m a slacker and I needed to figure out how to write as if I wasn’t writing a work email.

When it comes to cheap and amazing food, South America is bursting with restaurants that offer it. As a result, my two weeks in South America felt like heaven since I got the chance to try out some of the best restaurants in the Latin America/the World.

First stop: Maido

maido

Maido, one of the top 50 restaurants in the world, is known as one of the best places to experience Nikkei cuisine (ie, Peruvian-Japanese food). If anyone was like me, you might be wondering, how did Peru and Japan manage to get together and make a food baby? Starting from the 19th century, Japanese people began to immigrate to Peru for the promise of jobs. Since then, they have stayed in large numbers (Peru has the largest ethnic Japanese population in Latin America behind Brazil) and slowly integrated Japanese cooking techniques into Peruvian food. As a fun fact: Japanese people were the ones who introduced Peruvians to eating fish as well. But this post isn’t about the history of Nikkei cuisine, so I will move onto the actual Maido experience. You can google about Nikkei yourself if you want to learn more.

First, we were presented with the drink menu. Given that we were in Peru, we knew we had to order some drinks with Pisco. We ended up getting two rounds of drinks throughout the meal.

drinks
The smoke is liquid nitrogen being poured into the drink.

We started off with a complimentary small bites. A simple piece of white fish paired with a piece of fried salmon skin and a sesame sauce at the bottom. The crunchiness of the fried salmon skin was unbelievable.

Complimentary appeitzer. Fried salmon skin with white fish.

Once we actually got the food menu, we quickly realized we wanted to try everything on the menu! And even though the menu was incredibly affordable, we had to limit ourselves to a selection since we would be there for days if we were to try everything. Additionally, I think my wallet and the restaurant would both object to ordering everything. As a result, we came up with a strategy. Order one item from each category in the menu: the sashimi, the nigiri, the ceviche, and an entree.

First stop, sashimi. We got a piece of the catch of the day (ie, sea bass). The simplicity of the fish made it a nice way to start the meal off.

Sea bass sashimi

Second stop, nigiri. We couldn’t decide between two different options so we just went with both. These were served with the warning that we shouldn’t eat them with wasabi. We will come to learn later that our waiter is very particularly in how we should be enjoying the food.

  1. Salmon belly with tiger’s milk and smoked yellow chili.
  2. Scallops with a maca emulsion and more tiger’s milk

Salmon belly nigiri with chili sauce (salmon and pepper). Scallop nigiri in the back (amazing scallops).

Third stop, ceviche. The waiter recommended that we order this specific ceviche, which turned out to be a mixed ceviche combined with chili powder that was emulsified with liquid nitrogen. Our waiter mixed the chili emulsion right in front of us. He also only provided us with spoons for this dish and informed us that ceviche is only eaten with a spoon in Peru!

Ceviche! With a yellow chili emulsion with liquid nitrogen.

Last but not least, the entree (also recommended by our waiter). This might have been the highlight of the meal. Thick ribs, vacuum-cooked for 50 hours, paired with fried rice served in a small, adorable bamboo container. Maido was so sure of their ribs’ softness that the waiter refused to let us eat the dish with anything other than a spoon. Imagine that! Eating meat with a spoon. They were correct in only providing us with a spoon though. The ribs simply fell apart at the touch of the spoons and melted when it entered my mouth. The marinate was a delicious, sweet and salty sauce and the rice served as a great balance to the strong flavors in the meat.

72hr braised short rib. With amazing steamed rice with egg, scallion, and something magical on the side. You're only allowed to eat it with a spoon.

At this point, we had to order dessert as well. We weren’t going to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to eat more delicious foods. However, everything on the dessert menu looked so good that we couldn’t decide and went with the chef’s tasting platter instead. What we ended up getting was a wonderful assortment of items: churros, white chocolate “egg” on top of some cotton candy, chocolate mousse, and ice cream made from a local fruit (which is not pictured here).

2015-09-05 16.41.16

We finally concluded our meal two hours later and infinitely happier.

Look forward to more deliciousness from South America in a second post!

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