I’ve kind of decided that lunch is my favorite meal. It helps that Peru really, really knows how to do lunch: fresh fish, extensive menús, restaurants open late into the afternoons. This past week we decided to really enjoy the lunch culture here in Lima and treat ourselves to the best of the variety of cuisines this international city has to offer.
We snuck out of work one Wednesday…
…to Dos Hermanos, a Korean restaurant hidden along Av. Aviacion. The restaurant was empty and we were welcomed into one of their private rooms, with a long table, a sliding door, and a bell to summon our waitress. She laid out bowl after bowl of complimentary appetizers, gave us a jug of water (“You may be needing this”), and left us with the menus. The menu has all the basics and we settled on Cheyuq Poqum, a dish with bacon-style pork, vegetables, and calamari, all in a hot red sauce and served with rice and lettuce; the idea, she told us, is to wrap the meat and rice in the lettuce. We tried it but ended up just eating it with the rice. It was spicy and flavorful; the bacon-style pork was, as its name suggests, quite fatty, but somehow we didn’t mind too much. That dish was enough but we also ordered Bibimbap, our eyes bigger than our stomachs. The dish was dry and without much flavor, so we dumped it into the leftover sauce from the first dish. We left well-satisfied and ready for a nap, not another long afternoon of work.
On the weekend, we stopped by El Rocoto, an Arequipan restaurant that had long been on our list of places to try. We chose to order from the menu rather than the extensive but expensive buffet, and started our meal with the traditional stuffed rocoto pepper. The appetizer, a pepper stuffed with meat and accompanied by a sort of cheese-potato tart, was delicious. They had hollowed out the pepper, cleaned it and removed it of seeds, so it wasn’t at all spicy: I enjoyed that, but my lunch companion would have preferred a bit more spice, and actually asked for ají. We followed that with an order of Locro de pecho. The portion was small but delicious. In the end, we found the food so different from the typical limeño meal that we could hardly form an opinion; it was all good, but all so unusual!
Finally, we rounded out the week with what may be my favorite restaurant in Lima, La Onceava. I have to confess, I’ve been here three times, and every time is delicious. The ceviche taster, with its four ceviches–shrimp with squid; conchas negras; fish in shrimp sauce; and the traditional seafood– was delicate; each ceviche was unique and complemented the other. But that first time we noticed everyone had ordered the Piqueo Submarino, with its rice with seafood, its causa (potato with seafood, avocado, and egg), its ceviche, and its tiradito, so our second time we ordered that. It was even more incredible; each dish came in an open shell and tasted amazing. Their presentation is impeccable.
On our third trip, we ordered a simple grilled fish, which despite its simplicity may have been the best thing there– it was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, perfectly yummy. We also ordered the fried calamari, which was the least impressive thing on our table. In addition to beautiful, well-prepared food, they have excellent service. It’s the perfect place to spend the afternoon, sitting under their umbrellas in a corner of Barranco, chatting over one of their delicious piscos.
Lunch is good. In Lima, it’s so easy to eat cheaply: just walk down the street to your local chifa or 6-sol menú place. But every once in a while, it’s nice to treat yourself.
Dos Hermanos, Av. Aviacion 4812, Surco, Lima
El Rocoto, Av. Aviacion 4908, Surco, Lima
La Onceava, Jr. San Ambrosio 401, Barranco, Lima