Before I get into the food, I want to talk about this LIFE CHANGING cocktail I had – the Margarita Patada. Ok, maybe being a tad overdramatic, but it was by far the best cocktail I’ve had in ages and even just writing about it weeks later is making me itch for one soon. The Margarita Patada is Jalapeno infused pisco, Cointreau, fresh lime, ginger syrup, orange bitters and rocoto chili salt rim. This cocktail brought me life, as I was getting over a cold and it just kicked all my tastebuds behinds, shaking them and telling them to wake up! It has a nice little spicy kick but sweet taste that is quite common in Spanish cuisine, so I knew at first sight and first sip, I’d love it.
To start off our food portion of the evening, we had the Plantains with a trio of Peruvian sauces (Huacatay Peruvian mint, rocoto and aji Amarillo chili aioli) and the Aji Amarillo Seafood Chowder.
As we sat and were nibbling on our appetizers, I was thinking about the last time I felt like I was immersed in a culture and restaurant that made me feel I was elsewhere in the world – and my thoughts travelled back to my time in San Francisco. Chicha reminded me of those wonderful, small places that shine brightly without needing the glitz or glamour of being grandiose. They’re low key, serve great food and I would imagine be a ‘locals’ spot.
At Chicha, your entrees are share plates and we got to pick two each (four share plates total). We went with the Chalaco Ceviche, Crab and Wild Sockeye Salmon Cakes, Lomo Saltado and the Chicharron Sliders.
The Chalaco Ceviche was an interesting twist on your traditional ceviche. Mind you, I’ve only really had Mexican Ceviche previously, but I’d imagine that pending region and availability, the taste and ingredients vary. This ceviche is served with local Albacore tuna, Wild Sockeye Salmon, Pacific Ling Cod, prawns, scallops, green tigre de leche citrus, fresh oranges and rocoto chili dusted fried calamari. I thought it was an interesting mix of different seafood, including the fried calamari that gives it a different texture over all. I loved the citrus notes in it, it was slightly sweet and punchy but not overwhelmingly so.
The Crab and Wild Sockeye Salmon Cakes is served as a stack, drizzled in Peruvian tartar and served with a pickled cucumber and coconut meat escabeche salad. Each cake had a nice weight to them, so that you do get a nice filling share plate. The best way to enjoy this dish is to get a little piece of everything on your fork and eating it together, as the flavours shine better this way.
Probably not the best looking of all the dishes, but very tasty! The Lomo Saltado has medium rare Bavette steak, Kennebec fries, onions, peppers and tomatoes stir fried in rich, veal demi glace. The demi glace really punctuates this dish as it is soaked up in the fries and the steak itself.
Chicharron Sliders was one of the highlights of the evening with crisp pork belly, glazed yam, aji Amarillo aioli and salsa criolla. The use of sweet yam to cut the fattiness of pork belly is brilliant – I might have to try doing this in my own cooking. This mouth watering slider could be a burger and I’d eat it up with no problems or hesitation.
Finally for dessert, we tried both the Chocolate y Cafe Enamorados and the Peruvian Caramel Shortbread cookies. Both a nice way to end the meal without being overly sweet and loud.