With the release of the World’s Top 50 Restaurants of 2017 has come more limelight for Yampu’s origin-destination, Peru. Two Peruvian restaurants, Central and Maido, located a short distance from each other in Lima, graced the top 10 with another restaurant, Astrid, following behind at #33. Central was also awarded the Best Restaurant in Latin America award, which means it’s time to take a serious look at Peruvian cuisine and see what these chefs are creating that is establishing Lima as arguably the best city in the world for food.
Many of the famous dishes coming from the three restaurants above are built upon Peruvian classics, modified for a new and exciting twist. Some of Peru’s most famous and strikingly delicious dishes include:
Ceviche might not sound like much to the average diner, or even to the adventurous eater, but this dish is truly special. It is light, perfectly balanced seafood dish that beautifully highlights the abundant availability of prime seafood in Peru. Raw fish is marinated in citrus juice and can be prepared with any variety of accompaniments or types of fish. Commonly, red onion and the hot aji pepper are added for a whole new dimension of flavor to this explosively delicious dish that expresses acidity, spice, texture and the freshness and delicate beauty of raw fish with great dignity. Once finished eating, diners can continue to enjoy the flavors by drinking the rest of the marinade, which Peruvians call the “tiger’s milk.”
When it comes down to enjoying signature cuisine from another culture, sometimes we know that means mind over matter. What seems foreign and strange to us is likely custom somewhere else, and if the squeamish can get past the idea of something unusual they may be pleasantly surprised with a new favorite meal. Such is the case for Cuy, a common meat raised in the Andean mountains, a.k.a. guinea pig, a delicacy often compared to the flavor of rabbit. This tasty staple is traditionally prepared whole in many classic styles varying from region to region. In Cusco, Cuy is roasted whole with a hot pepper in its mouth. In Arequipa it is baked, and in the Huancayo region it is fried, accompanied by a pepper and achiote sauce. Barbecued Cuy is also a favorite and showcases a sauce made of hot peppers, garlic and spices.
Like many countries in the world, potatoes are a staple in Peruvian diets. There is much controversy over the origin of this most spending root vegetable, but many believe that potatoes come from Peru or Chile. This comforting root veg is the main ingredient in Causa, a homey layered dish that almost mimics au gratin. Sliced potatoes are layered with avocado and fillings such as egg, meat or fish. The dish is served cold and can be tasted in restaurants all over the country and in marketplaces- very tasty!
Pollo a la Brasa
This famous Peruvian-style roasted chicken has gained so much notoriety that it’s being served up around the world. Served with thick cut fries or yucca, a series of dipping sauces such as spicy pepper sauces and cilantro dip, this marinated chicken roast is out of this world. Soy sauce, garlic, cumin, peppers and other spices adorn this crispy-skinned entrée, creating a symphony of smoked, salty goodness. Some of the ingredients used hint at the history of Peru’s immigrants, many of whom were Chinese looking for work. Their influence on Peru’s cuisine is notable in that they introduced new flavors to classic local ingredients.
Aji de Gallina
Creamy, mildly spicy goodness. Aju De Gallina is a stew that balances spicy yellow aji peppers with rich, creamy broth. It’s simple, silken base is dressed up with chicken or potatoes and bread. This is a comforting dish that warms your belly and your soul!
Pisco Sours are Peru’s national cocktail and Yampu employee favorite! If you haven’t tried Pisco before head to your local liquor store and pick up a bottle and whip up a Pisco Sour. Try our recipe for this lime-y, frothy cocktail that will melt your heart (in a good way). It’s the perfect sneak preview at some of Peru’s finest flavors that you can make easily at home.
What Makes Peru’s Top Three Restaurants Special?
Let’s take a closer look at the three Lima-based restaurants that graced the World’s Top 50 Restaurants list and understand what makes them so special. Keep on reading to find out how you can dine in one of these establishments and other VIP restaurants throughout Peru.
Not only number five on the list for the World’s Best, Central is also Latin America’s Best Restaurant. Central’s creator, Chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz, is known for his role on a season of the Netflix show, Chef’s Table. Central’s concept has garnered exaltation from the masses for its innovative and creative nature. The tasting menu is arranged by the altitude at which the ingredients are sourced, putting a fresh spin on local ingredients and the Andean communities that use them. This idea adds context to the flavors, presentation, and ambiance found within Central’s walls and gives its visitors something more to think about.
Maido highlights Peru’s diverse cuisine and the influence of Japanese cooking brought to Peru by immigrants. Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura utilized this cooking style, called nekkei, and it is the primary reason Maido is recognized as one of the world’s best restaurants. Aside from sushi, diners can enjoy the perfection of Japanese meals with a Peruvian twist, as seen in his ceviche with corn and cream and other distinguished dishes.
Astrid y Gaston
Chef-owner Gastón Acurio is known throughout Peru for his chain restaurant, La Mar, which serves up well-loved ceviche. His menu is a beautiful fusion of Peru’s cultural history, featuring Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and many more influences. Fascinating twists like peking duck-style Cuy serve to inspire diners and offer creations far outside of what the world thinks of as Peruvian cuisine by re-defining it.
How Can You Experience the Culinary World in Peru?
The best way to experience the out-of-this-world culinary experience that is Peruvian dining is to go to Peru. With three-months’ notice, Yampu can attain dinner reservations at some of Peru’s most exclusive restaurants. In addition, we have access to wonderful chefs who offer cooking classes so you can make the full-flavored, authentic Peruvian dishes you love most in your own home when you return. Even if you are going to Peru for the history, ruins or culture, take advantage of the opportunity to try some of the world’s finest restaurants with Yampu!
For more insider tips on Peru read these insights from: