Thursday, June 30, 2011

Peruvian Dining in San Diego

Well, I ended up not having time this month to research recipes, visit markets, and create a meal inspired by my armchair travels, so instead I spent some time looking for Peruvian food in San Diego and came across a local blog (mmm-yoso!!!) that featured a couple positive reviews of "Latin Chef" - a Brazilian/Peruvian restaurant in Pacific Beach.  After checking out mmm-yoso!!!'s posts  Latin Chef part 1 and Latin Chef part 2 I decided to head on over for lunch today and I was not disappointed!

Latin Chef  - Pacific Beach
Latin Chef is located on Garnet Street in Pacific Beach and has a pleasant interior - wooden tables, bright colored art, breeze flowing through the open doors, friendly waitresses. I settled down at a little table by the open door and enjoyed the beautiful SoCal summer weather.

 After reading mmm-yoso!!!'s blog, I knew to expect the waitress to bring over a little pre-meal snack, and I enjoyed my canchita - corn kernels that are roasted or fried til just before the pop. They were salty and yummy - reminiscent of corn nuts but without all the disgusting flavor powder. I devoured them in seconds:)
Chicha Morada
 I watched an Anthony Bourdain episode from his travels in Peru, and he had imbibed some "Chicha" which was a fermented drink, kind of like beer, made from maize that in some cases has been chewed up and spit out by locals and then allowed to ferment. YIKES! I wasn't ready for any of the fermented, spit filled chicha, but I was happy to try chicha morada, which is a non-fermented version made from ears of purple maize boiled with pineapple rind, cinnamon, and clove, which is then mixed with sugar and lemon juice.  It had a nice flavor, sweet, but with a fruity flavor. The cinnamon and clove had a nice balance with the other flavors. Yum. No ice - I'm guessing that's pretty typical in Peru.

Cebiche de Pescado
 Cebiche (fish "cooked" in lemon juice) is basically the national dish of Peru, and there are many variants. I had a sea bass version, that was marinated in lemon juice and Peruvian chile, served with red onions, corn (huge kernels!!!!) and a cooked yam. I thought it was good - I couldn't finish it, but I did enjoy!

Tofu Lomo Saltado
 Latin Chef was relatively veggie-friendly, which I appreciated, and I tried out the Lomo Saltado made with Tofu in place of the meat.  From what I can tell, this is a pretty typical Peruvian dish, consisting of a protein cooked with onions, tomatoes, cilantro and french fries. I was worried the fries would be mushy and that it wouldn't have much flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised. The rice was super yummy too - just plain rice but cooked well and perfect for soaking up the salty sauce. I like things spicy so I asked for some hot sauce.
red chili sauce
All in all, a delicious meal, very in keeping with some of what I learned about from the Anthony Bourdain show I watched and the posts from mmm-yoso!!! Despite not trying my hand at cooking Peruvian food, I really enjoyed my meal at Latin Chef!!!


  1. Thanks for the link Nikki! BTW, you must visit Machu Picchu if you have a chance, it is amazing.

  2. Very different items than we're used to here but they looked good! Glad you like to try new cuisine.