Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Restaurant "Mishaja"

On Sunday, after swimming at the Bayoz waterfall, we headed toward La Merced looking for a place to have lunch. The place we selected was "Mishaja" restaurant overlooking the Chanchamayo. It was a rustic roadside restaurant built in the style of traditional dwellings in this area, which is home to the Asháninka tribe, but it had great ambience. The view of the river and the numerous and varied birds that flocked to it was very nice, even with the river at its seasonal low, and the selection of local music played over the loudspeakers really lent a sense of place.

We uncorked the Argentine tempranillo wine we had brought from Lima just for this meal, poured the kids the cocona juice we had ordered, and settled down to wait for our food to arrive.

Juancho's was the first to arrive: fried peccary (chicharrón de sajino). The meat is first boiled until cooked tender. The water is then allowed to boil off and the flesh is then fried in its own fat and oils (though sometimes with some extra oil added to speed things along) until golden-brown and crisp on the outside.

These chicharrones were some the most tender I can remember tasting, and the meat, though clearly identifiable as a variety of pork, was somehow different from regular pork and quite flavourful in its own right. It was not at all gamey and the strong odor of sajino that the waitress had mentioned was not evident.

Nico and I each ordered sajino steaks, which were delicious. The meat was pounded thin and cooked with seasonings. Though the servings were quite large, Nico ate the whole thing, and that after sampling pieces from Juancho's plate.

Before digging in to my steak, I had a chilcano de carachama. "Chilcano" indicates a light fish broth, and so there was no mistaking what it was made of, the bowl included a whole carachama:

The broth was fantastic, full of flavor and very fresh tasting. With the addition of some lime juice and the slice of rocoto pepper that came along with it, it really hit the spot.

The fish itself was a bit of a challenge due to its scaly armour. I kid you not, when tapped with the spoon it was quite solid. The cooks had done me the favor of slitting it along the belly, allowing access to the white flesh inside, which was somewhat bland and not very fishy, but rewarding for the effort nonetheless.

Susana, unsure of what she wanted, but sure she wanted meat, asked me to order for her. I selected a dish of roasted agouti, or majaz, as it is called here.

The meat was tender but quite dense and the skin was described by Susana as initially seeming "gummy" yet it was not chewy at all. The flavor was intense and unique, and we all agreed that it was by far the best dish at our table. Definitely worth ordering again should we go to a restaurant selvático in Lima.

All the meats were accompanied by white rice, cooked in the Peruvian style with garlic, salt, and bit of lime juice, salad (which we did not eat), fried yuca and fried bananas.

In this instance seeking out culinary "adventures" definitely paid off handsomely.

Restaurant Turístico "Mishaja"
Puente Raither
Km. 10.5 Carretera Fernando Belaúnde Terry
La Merced - Chanchamayo - Perú
Telf.: 998-3030


Anonymous said...

I remember eating in this very place almost exactly a year ago.

Juancho said...

Thanks, Stuart, for your nice comments. As I am sure you noticed, I am a reader of your blog. You have some great entries and I love your photos. Thank you for sharing them.