Thursday, July 1, 2010


Last night, after a day of relative sloth -not really! Took care of some straightening up of the apartment, unpacking, shopping, blogging, and took the dog out to pee- I got together with my cousins for a dinner out at Panchita, Gaston Acurio's latest restaurant. It opened early last year and was an instant hit.

Acurio hosts a TV show, La Aventura Culinaria, in which he travels throughout Lima and explores the various iterations given a specific ingredient, dish, or cuisine by various eateries, from holes-in-the-wall to upscale joints. This has allowed him to gather information on all manner of techniques and ideas. In addition he seems to be a keen student of what makes a restaurant popular and he applies that in his restaurants.

At Panchita he has done this by loading the menu with comfort dishes. However, he has upscaled them all, both in terms of quantity as of quality and technique. The result is that one can order, say, a lomo saltado -a staple of Peruvian restaurants and home cooking- at Panchita and find in it all the elements that make it familiar and comforting, yet have it be unlike any lomo saltado one has ever tasted.

The service is prompt and attentive, without being stuffy or hovering. Which is a good thing, as Mito kept asking for more rocoto pepper sauce.

Naturally, we started the evening with pisco sours. We ordered them catedral-style, which are doubles, but at Panchita are actually triples. One of those is enough for anyone!

Every meal there starts with a bread plate, which includes two kinds of bread -a potato bread and an herb focaccia- accompanied by an aji-based sauce and a honey butter.

We decided to order family style and share all the dishes so we could all sample a variety. Our first order was a lomo saltado and a platter of salchipapas. These were followed by another platter of salchipapas and an osso buco.

Now, salchipapas deserve special mention. They are a Peruvian culinary invention which appeared and instantly took off as street food in the late 1970s. The basic idea is ridiculously simple: French fries with slices of fried or grilled hot dog. However, what makes this dish Peruvian and such a hit is, one, that Peruvian potatoes have so much flavor on their own, and second, the aji-based condiments sauces that are added. And, in the realm of salchipapas (maybe I'll do my own "aventura culinaria" on salchipapas...), Panchita's have a place of their own.

They are, flat out, the grandest salchipapas I have ever seen or tasted. Made with Andean yellow potatoes, the fries alone are quite tasty and naturally buttery-tasting inside while very crisp outside - a quality that makes yellow potatoes such a prized part of the Peruvian cook's arsenal. They are topped with five types of sausage, including, of course, hot dog, but also salchicha huachana and black pudding. To top it off, like a crown, there is that fried egg. No wonder that the menu recommends this one for sharing!

L to R: Me, Guille, Mito, Diego, the other Juancho, Carlita
All in all, it was a very nice evening at what has turned into one of the family's favourite restaurants.

Av. Dos de Mayo 298
Miraflores - Lima


Anonymous said...

Salchipapas: I especially like the fried egg touch! I'm gonna make it for the boy soon!

Your darling Mike.

Anonymous said...

I made coconut shrimp, chive aeoli, and salad with olive oil lime dressing. I'm no Acurio, but it was dang good.
Ate as I iced my back.


Juancho said...

I like your coconut shrimp. Chive aeoli sounds good too. I presume the chives are from the garden?

Anonymous said...

Dog out to pee? New one, or you actually brought the hound?

Juancho said...

Cousin's dog, Kafu.

Anonymous said...

Ayyy cada nuevo post me pone mas impaciente de llegar al Perucito. Espero que guarden estomago para dupletear algunos resturantes. Un besazo.