It is roomier than it looks, a humble counter facing walls of red. Rainbows of blankets lie under acrylic tablecloths. The interior is modest, but Peru's Taste gives Puro Sabor a run for its nuevos soles with the skill of its kitchen.
I first try a Peruvian/Chinese staple, the Pollo Saltado, dark chicken stir-fried with french fries and the ever-present red onion and tomato. The french fries are wan and uniform and probably not homemade; they are not the focus of this.
It is something about the juices. Delicate colors of green herb and dark spice gather toward something sublimely delicious, soaking into the foot of the steamed rice rising like a step pyramid above the plate. The taste can be savored for long minutes afterward; even a single slice of limp red onion is worthy of praise.
With over 2400 kilometers of coastline, Peruvian fare should be capable with the seafood, and it is reflected here. The Pescado a la Chorrillana is from Chorrillos, a district on the sound end of Lima, and it is my new favorite fish dish. Two large fillets are fried lightly, tender and shreddy, utterly unlike a fluffy beer-battered fish 'n chips style. Tomato and red onion, of course, are sautéed and laid over them like a romantic plot.
Peru also has an obsession with the potato, as might be assumed from the fries one sees in saltado dishes. On this plate there is a potato, sliced in half; each half is itself fried. The result is one potato-sized french fry, which seems unwise but really makes a lot of flavorly sense, and beats a baked potato two throws out of three.
The plantains here--porción de platano frito--are caramelized into deep browns and ambers, beautifully sweet and barely crispy at the ends. I will crave these too.
Their version of the puréed chili sauce known as aji is the color of mustard and instantly furious, the hottest of the Peruvian places I know except possibly for Mamita. It gives your tongue no greeting or attention at all, preferring to leap over it and slam into the back of your throat.
What else... I must try the salchipapas. French fries and sausage? Why isn't this already popular? French fries and sausage. Please. Write your Congressperson.
The chicha morada is thin and sweet and not memorable, but you're going to drain it quickly when you've dabbed too much aji over your dish.
Peru's Taste is in an uneven little corner mall (note the strange angles in the first photo), so parking is plentiful.
The Peruvian poll:
Mario's: Best Chance for Being Carted Home in a Basket
Los Balcones del Perú: Classiest Place for Making Yourself Useless
Lola's: Best Chicha Morada
Mamita: Most tongue-spanking Aji sauce
Peru's Taste: Most savory sauces
Puro Sabor: Best Lomo Saltado
Choza Mama: Most comfortably home-style
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Peruvian, The Valley )
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