Okay, I’ll admit it — I was very nervous to go out to dinner on Friday night. Peruvian food isn’t exactly something I am familiar with; and after menu-stalking I was a bit overwhelmed. After reading over several ingredients I either didn’t know the word/translation or I couldn’t seem to envision what the plate would taste like. I even found myself re-reading over “habanero.” The embarrassing part: I know what a habanero is. I know how to grow the plant in my backyard. I know just a small amount of this pepper will clear out my sinuses. But yet, I was so overwhelmed by the menu I had to look at the word “habanero” multiple times.
Within only a couple of minutes of being at the restaurant, I knew my dinner was in great hands. The servers at Raymi have perfected how to describe every dish, they know how to pair your food with Peruvian-style cocktails, and over-all they are brilliant at making your Peruvian dinner a memorable one.
You can easily get away with eating the entire meal in a tapas-style sort of way. My first dish: Causa of the day. Lobster was the catch of the day and the fish was placed over a cold aji amarillo potato puree. The rich, creamy texture of the lobster and potato puree was outstanding — but to add some extra flavor and crunch to the plate the chef added some roasted dehydrated corn. These little bites of crunchy corn was so delicious! I wish they were sold at the grocery store!
After quickly Yelp’ing a bit, I realized that the restaurant’s Peruvian Corn Cake plate was raved about. It seemed like such a hit, so obviously I put this at the top of the list of plates to order.
The corn cake is topped with a mushroom ragout and watercress leaves. It’s incredible how all of the flavors fuse together so beautifully — especially on this dish. Without the peppery taste of the watercress, the mushrooms and corn cake wouldn’t have that necessary zing. And I’m sure you are thinking about the texture of this “corn cake,” and let me assure you it’s nothing like a corn muffin or corn bread that we typically eat in the U.S. This corn cake doesn’t have the distinctive grainy consistency and is smooth and creamy and makes it easier to pick up the rest of the ingredients on your fork. I would be happy to order this plate and eat it as my lunch or dinner — funny enough, one of the hosts said she did just that the night before! This plate seems to be a hit for those dining at the restaurant and those working there!
And since this restaurant really masters the concept of tapas plates, sharing food and talking about your favorite plates makes a dinner so much more fun. Which is why I loved the Ceviche & Tiraditos Tasting plate. This plate allows you to pick a total of 4 items from the ceviche and tiraditos section of the menu. Our choice (clock-wise from the top left): *I forget what the first one is, fluke, tuna and salmon. The manager recommended we eat these with a spoon — and boy was he right! Eating ceviche with a spoon rather than a fork allows you to scoop up the extra citrus juices at the bottom of the bowl — this gives the fish a refreshing flavor. This tasting plate couldn’t have been more of a hit!
And, a close-up of the tuna:
Another brilliant appetizer to share between 2 people was the Hanger Steak — specifically it’s skewered hanger steak seared and served with aji panca glaze, creamy ocopa sauce and rocoto salsa. Wowza — this plate sure was full of flavor! It tasted as if the hanger steak was soaking and marinating in the most complex mixture of seasonings and spices before being cooked. Hands-down this was the most flavorful piece of meat I have tasted in a very long time! In addition to the Peruvian Corn Cake, this Hanger Steak is a must-order!
For our “main dish” the two of us shared the Chaufa Completo — which is served with jasmine rice, chicken char siu, shrimp and chinese sausage. I dug in around the sausage but the overall plate was just bursting with exotic flavors. I knew right from the start the jasmine rice was going to add subtle but important flavorings to this plate.
Even though we had just a bit of leftovers, sharing all of these plates together completely satisfied us for dinner.
Over course we had to end our evening with dessert. We followed the manager’s suggestion and ordered the Peruvian Crispy Donuts. I know what you’re thinking — donuts are such a big food trend these can’t be anything other than ordinary, blah blah blah. But you’re wrong! Yes, donuts are such a food fad these days but Raymi adds a perfect, sweet, twist to the homemade dessert. Honey is the ingredient that makes these donuts have a natural sweetness — I guarantee that you’ll agree with me that these donuts are anything but ordinary!
I’m sure you are overwhelmed reading this post — because you can see how much I truly enjoyed my first dinner at a Peruvian restaurant. I’m sure you have also noticed that Peruvian food is highly influenced by the Asian culture and cuisine! Who would have thought that a blend of Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, West African and Italian cuisines would be brought to the country of Peru and all of these cultures have been an influence on the food that is made throughout the country to this very day. Luckily, for me, I found that Peruvian food seems to have a stronger influence from the Japanese — I’m not a huge fan of Chinese cuisine, but Japanese I love! There’s nothing like beautiful cuts of raw fish tossed in citrus and served fresh!