A few years ago, Cuzco Peru opened across the Boulevard of Death from my apartment. I went a few times, but as it was so new, it was hard to really get a feel for the place and I wound up never posting about it. I liked the food enough, but wanted to give it time to find its footing before I really reviewed it. I recall this opening in 2009, because my friends and I planned a trip to Machu Pichu, Cuzco, Peru, but it fell through, and I told my friend about Cuzco opening across the street from me. “I’m going to Cuzco one way or another this year!” I joked, nerdily. Last year, our trip planning came to fruition – definitely one of the trips of a lifetime! – and we finally went to Cuzco… where I discovered the joys of true Peruvian cuisine, including, but not limited to, chichamoradas, a purple corn drink that was served to us in the Amazon near daily. Recently, while looking online for something, I stumbled upon mention of chichamoradas being served at Cuzco Peru, along with many other “authentic Peruvian dishes” – and I knew it was time to give Cuzco Peru another go. (The menu, when I’d first gone, had been super abbreviated and limited to mostly chicken, ceviche, the like.)
First up, a glass of the chichamoradas! There was definitely more sugar in this version than I’d had in Peru, and way more cinnamon than I remembered. But it was, for all intents and purposes, the drink I’d had in Peru, and I was pleased to have it so close to home. The fruit in it made me think, overall, that it was very much like non-alcoholic sangria, but I liked it quite a lot. Very tasty.
With our food, we were served two sauces. The red one was deemed spicy, so I didn’t try, and the green one was just a little too spicy for me. I’m sure it was enjoyed though!
Ah, my leche de tigre – such a pretty presentation, with roasted corn kernals on the bottom – the big ones, lightly dusted with salt… yummy to snack on!
Three decent sized shrimp, with a plantain chip dug into the middle of the cup… cooked perfectly well! I could do without the shrimp to be honest –
since the inside of the cup is filled with chunks of fish, lots of lime juice, and very yummy, ever so slightly spicy… growing more spicy as I dug into it, fishing out everything to consume. Like!
Tamalitos, with your choice of chicken or pork stuffing (of course, pork was the obvious choice), was the other appetizer.
Juicy chunks of pork overflowed from the open tamale.
And deep inside was a corn stuffing. You could say it was masa, but I don’t think so – I saw chunks of corn, and I’m not the biggest fan of masa… but I liked this a lot. Of course, I kept myself occupied with the leche de tigre, so my mind was elsewhere.
Our entrees started to arrive by this time, so we made room on the table. First up: the quarter chicken we decided to add just to try the chicken, even though I was really there to see about the other authentic Peruvian dishes, not about the chicken that every place claiming to be Peruvian seems to serve now.
Juicy, tender chicken, with a good flavor to it. Did it blow my mind like my chicken experience in Peru? Nah. But it was good. And different.
Ahhh, Peruvian Chinese food – which we missed out on while we were in Peru – is actually supposed to be very good. Here, it showed itself on the menu as beef ‘chaufa’ (fried rice; in Cantonese, fried rice is chow fahn… hmmm). Definitely tasty, though I’m not inclined to order fried rice in restaurants – ever.
And now for my dish! Lomo saltado, which I’d had at more than a few places while in Peru, and saw on many more menus. Here you could order chicken or beef, but I stuck to beef, which was how I’d had it in Peru. Essentially a salted beef dish, sometimes it was saucy with lots of gravy, sometimes it was just the beef, it came in many different forms but was always tasty. Here it came with big slices of onion, chunks of tomato, and plenty of rice with which to mix it.
I found this completely satisfying, very tasty and not too much gravy. I can’t really describe the taste – here I fail – but it’s well-seasoned beef, onions, tomato, and a bit of beef juices mixed into rice… just know that it’s good and you should try it, if not here, then somewhere else.
For dessert, our ever friendly server, who had spent some time talking to me after I mentioned I’d gone to Peru last year, told us that they had chichamoradas pudding. Recalling how much I’d enjoyed this while in the Amazon, I had to have it even though I was quite full – so full that I’d had to take leftovers of the lomo saltado home.
Again sweeter than what I’d had in the Amazon, but still tasty, I enjoyed the not-quite-jello-y pudding. It had golden raisins or some sort of dried fruit strewn throughout, which had absorbed the juice and plumped up nicely. The top was sprinkled liberally with cinnamon again, which made it pleasantly ‘spiced’ though I don’t tend to be a huge fan of that taste. I found myself reaching into the cup again and again, until it was all gone.
Yvo says: I am so happy to have found those Peruvian dishes close to home! I will definitely be going back for more chichamoradas and to try more and more of the food – I was quite happy with everything I had this time around and look forward to eating even more and better dishes. Yum!!!