Home > Food, Peru > A Sinful Exravaganza

A Sinful Exravaganza

The coastline of Peru provides tonnes of fish and seafood from the Pacific Ocean and the influence of this resource can be seen in the local cuisine. However Limeños – as the people of the city like to call themselves – traditionally eat fish at lunchtime and meat at dinner. In order to try the Peruvian speciality of ceviche and other delights of the sea we looked up the restaurant offerings in Miraflores, the barrio of Lima in which we were lodging.

Pescados Capitales was recommended by the locals and guidebooks alike and keeping our fingers crossed we arrived at the restaurant at 12.30 – early enough to try and cadge a table as we hadn’t booked. The street is lined with auto garages and sprinkled with expensive fish restaurants. A strange juxtaposition you might say, but why not? Apparently La Mar – a small chain of half a dozen high-end fish restaurants around the world – opened a branch in Avenida La Mar (hmm, which came first?) and others followed suit. Pescados Capitales opened its doors in 2001 and in the last ten years has caused a storm in the culinary world. Not just for their preparation of fish but also for writing menus which look like poetry! The menu starts with a page which is blank but for a quote from James Joyce.

“God has made the food, and the devil the salt and sauces.”

 

The scallop ceviche appetizer

There is no browsing of the menu. You need to read the description of each dish to understand what it might contain. It’s like going through the quotes of Confucious, talking about guilt and balance and sin and passion. The Japanese influence doesn’t stop here. Japanese and Peruvian fusion food is all the rage in S America and has travelled to other parts of the world too. Soya, five spice, ginger and lime appear in the descriptions of many dishes.

 

We sat down in a nearly empty restaurant of around 40 tables and the waiter brought around a menu in English. As mentioned earlier, reading the menu is not to be taken lightly and took some time however half way through our waiter brought us a Ceviche of Scallop each to savour whilst we perused the menu. The delight of picking up something you

didn’t order and putting it in your mouth is enough but then the pleasure of rolling it around your tongue and getting the first taste of the little morsel – was heavenly! Ceviched with a dash of soy and chinese wine and sprinkled with crushed sesame. An excellent ploy by the restaurant to get the 

Grilled Baby Octopus

juices flowing prior to ordering!

We decided to order dishes as we go along because we didn’t have a measure of the portions or our appetite. By this time, groups of men dressed in suits and tie were being dropped off in taxis outside and the restaurant was beginning to fill up. First up we ordered a couple of dishes from the ‘Small Sins” section along with an Argentine chardonnay. Pulpo a la Griega (Grilled baby octopus) served with a chilli and lime sauce and 150grams of Pacific Prawns cooked in a very light tomato sauce clinging to the prawns. Both were excellent though I had to cut off some of the blubber from the octopus. Blubber requires more cooking than the flesh when flash grilled however it did make the dish look spectacular and I didn’t mind cutting some off. The prawn dish was simple and delicious, especially with an extra generous squeeze of lime.

By now the restaurant was overflowing with customers – men in suits – and the bar was busy making cocktails. This was surprising given this was a Monday lunch time! Puffed up by the first course, we went through the menu again, this time with less of a fine-comb and decided on Crab Claws. The waiter asked whether we’ll have them natural or roasted. We went for roasted to try something different and ordered two Pisco Sours to wash them down with. The claws came covered in a light battered and deep fried (not roasted as was mentioned in the menu) but were very light and tasty and it made a nice change to have crab warm  like this. The Pisco Sours were fabulous – just the best I’ve had until now, with a lovely froth of whisked egg whites clinging to the top of the small glass. The kick of the bitter pisco blended with the sweet jarabe de goma (bar syrup) was a perfect compliment to the subtelty of the crab meat.

Lightheaded with the excellent wine and pisco sours and confident about ordering dishes from the menu we went for the Peruvian

Deep fried crab claws

speciality Arroz con Mariscos which is really just another name for a seafood paella albeit with a Peruvian slant. The dish came with four scallops dressed in their shell. The rice was stickier than is usual in a paella (Japanese influence?) and there was no chicken or fish – just seafood. The first spoonful tasted a little underseasoned but spicier than the traditional dish. Each subsequent mouthful got tastier however and soon the entire plate was gone!

Our tummies were feeling nicely full now but the waiter had warned us at the start that we must keep room for desserts – otherwise it’d be a sin. Not wanting to commit one, we ordered a Peruvian Creme Brulee to share. This was made with rice and very creamy with a perfect crust which crunched and gave way to the cream under when tapped with the back of a spoon.

Arroz con Mariscos

As we paid the bill, the room still buzzed with the noise of businessmen negotiating deals and the barmen catching bottles of spirits mid-air.

In the entire course of the afternoon, I might have consumed less than one teaspoon of oil for the flavours were fresh and didn’t require grease, and happily the lack of it did not deter from the great flavours. Only coriander was conspicuously missing.

Pescados Capitales is one of the best known restaurants in Lima and is rated second best in all Lima restaurants on Tripadvisor. It’s the most sensational seafood I have ever had!
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  1. Recipe Chefs
    March 30, 2011 at 12:53

    Great post thanks for sharing. I really enjoy reading your blog. Feel free to check out our delicious recipes

  2. March 31, 2011 at 09:53

    What a great post Shelley! You are in the wrong business.. Was this the 80 quid lunch place?

    Thomas

    • March 31, 2011 at 15:58

      Thank you sweetie! This was the £80 lunch. Missing you guys in Cusco – it’s such an amazing city!

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