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Latin Chef Report -SD

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Hi
I went for the first time yesterday for dinner at PBs Peruvian Restaurant. Its great that they expanded into the space next door -with all of the deserved attention it has recieved.

For dinner, though tempted by the Cau-Cau, I tried out the Pescado a la Chorillana. THis was a breaded filet of fish served with rice and topped with an escabeche-esque sauce of tomatoes and red onion. Piping hot and delicious - I scarfed it down! The sauce looked as if it had some annato in it - and was delightfully tangy so I suspect vinegar was an elment as well.

My friend tried to order the Aji de Gaillina - but we were told they were all out - which seemed strange - and then tried to get the Arroz con Pollo - which was also unavailable. It sounded like there was no more chicken in the restaraurant. So finally we were given an OK on the Lomo Saltado. I have to say I was really impressed by the juicyness and tenderness of the sirloin. It was fantastic. They also seem to be cutting their own fries now as well ;).

For our appetizer -which arrived a bit after our meals we had the Yuca with the huacaina sauce. This was hit. I loved the fried starchy tuber and I was amazed by the complexity of the sauce. Gentle, warming, & creeping heat, slight lactic cheeseness, and some spice of sort.

I really like their chicha morada here too. Not super sweet, refreshing and clovey.

I noticed the Green tallarin with the bistec at another table - this looked really good.

Thanks to all those who reported on this place - you discovered a gem.

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  1. Too bad you guys couldn't have the Aji de Gallina. That dish took me back to Lima. I'm glad to hear they've expanded!

    1. I think I know why no chicken was served. During the week, Freddy told me he only purchases what he thinks he can sell in one day. He does this to ensure freshness. It's something he picked up when he used to own a Peruvian Restaurant in Tokyo, much in the manner of how sushi bars purchase their fish. This is also the reason why it's not really a good idea to visit Latin Chef on Sundays; they are likely to be out of certain dishes, especially anything with corvina, which is used for the cebiche and tiradito.

      They still use the same amount of papas fritas on the lomo saltado...it's just that you have a different opinion when you're eating the food, rather than looking at a photo of someone else's meal! ;o)

      1 Reply
      1. re: KirkK

        Hey im sorry - I repent! :)
        I think my words were "abc crinkle cut fries." I was expecting them - but I think they had hand cut fries this time.

      2. I'm glad to hear they've expanded! I had lunch there a while ago and loved the ceviche.

        1. Thanks for the report. That sounds like a must eat for us.

          1. We finally made it here for dinner! We had the yuca fries which were perfectly fried. The dipping sauce was perfectly gently spicy and salty. It would make a great french fry dip as well.

            The sea bass cebiche was very good and we had a pretty generous amount for an appetizer serving. Good balance of citrus and spice. The yams on the side were really tasty as well. Reminded me a little bit of the cebiche at Andina in PDX.

            We both ended up having the aji de gallina. Another excellent choice! Moist, shredded chicken in a perfectly gently spicy, flavorful sauce.

            Chicha morada was really good. I've had this at other places and it was always "off" in some ways. Here, it was smooth, just a little tangy-sweet and left me wanting more.

            Portions are decent sized. We got full after the apps and ended up taking our entrees home (will make a good lunch for tomorrow). The owner is very friendly and explained to us the different types of corn in Peru (there are 5, one is specifically made for chicken food) and showed us the purple corn that the chicha morada is made from.

            We really hope they stay around for a while--this is a great cheap eat!

            1 Reply
            1. re: daantaat

              I'll repost here my report on Latin Chef:

              Latin Chef won the day, and I am glad it did.

              We started with a Chicha Morada (that beautiful purple drink - sweet with a wonderful spicy undertone and a simple salad, oh and those yummy salted corn nuts.

              Then we had 3 entrees which were delivered to the two of us one at a time. That was nice. Gave us the opportunity to fully appreciate each dish and the combination of flavors.

              First we had the Pescado a la Macha - This was my honey's favorite - a white sea bass lightly breaded and sauteed in a red sauce (just spicy enough) with shrimp, octopus, and calamari on top with a scoop of rice on the side. Delicious.

              Second was the Aji de Gallina - This one was my favorite - tender pieces of shredded chicken in this wonderful creamy, spicy sauce - reminiscent of a curry also served with a scoop of rice.

              Third was the Lomo Saltado - Steak sauteed with tomatoes and onions served with french fries and white rice. Satisfying and yummy.

              Another aspect of the experience that was wonderful for us was the conversation we had with the owner, Freddie. He was warm and available and steered us well in our eating journey as well as telling us interesting things about Peru and his travels.

              We left feeling full and happy. A meal made with love.

              Oh and the woman next to us ordered one of the cebiche dishes which looked so so so good.............................next time.

            2. Really good dinner with some friends tonight.

              We Started with the Yuca whose sauce does deserve the attention it gets. I just wish the Fried pieces were lightly salted.

              Round of cideresque spiced Chicha Moradas - not a touch oversweetened.

              I had the lomo saltado, which was pretty darn near perfect. Fresh crisp fries, tasty high quality beef, soft tomatoes and a extraordinary soy -tomato based caldillo that was curry reminscent with its cumin hint. The rice they serve alongside is the best tasting unadorned rice I have consumed in San Diego.

              Companion had the Bistec con tallarin Verde. Again - where are they getting this beef that tastes what it should taste like? So good against the creamy and salty cheese adorned green spagehetti.

              The Aji sauce we requested on the side is my third favorite salsa in San Diego after El Sabor and Texcoco. Levels of flavor and creeping heat.

              Also ordered was the chow mein like pollo salteado - which I didnt taste.

              Some notes:
              - I just wish the greetings were slightly warmer here. We could see the owner and a partner look at us up and down with not a reaction and go back to their work, We were at a loss for what to do until the nice waitress came a minute or so later.

              - The waitress kind of disapeared during the course of the meal and we had to seek her out to request anything though we were the only ones dining.

              - I dont mind waiting for food prepared at time of ordering [especially at the quality that does present itself here] but we did wait for quite a long, long time for even the Yuca to arrive. My poor friends were starving and again we were the only ones in the house. Made me think of what they do on a Friday night?

              Please don't jump at me - I really adore this place - I just wanted to express some feelings I had...

              4 Replies
              1. re: kare_raisu

                I love the place too. Odd that you were ignored. I have found the owner to be sometimes too friendly, coming over and discussing and explaining things when I was trying to talk with friends. Do try the cau-cau some time. It is good. Also the cebiche is truly amazing.

                1. re: Ed Dibble

                  I asked about the tripe but it wasnt available. Intrigued! How is it prepared?

                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    You may also want to try the Anticuchos - it compares favorably to the 3 versions we had in Cusco.

                    I've always found the service at Latin Chef to be on the, to put it nicely, relaxed side. But, I've had the same kind of service, in a bit of a less friendly atmosphere at Aji Seco as well. Also, the wait staff is usually made up of students. Considering the location and price point, I find it to be a very positive trade-off. I do avoid times when I think they'll be swamped.

                2. re: kare_raisu

                  We really like this place, as do our friends who we introduced to it. Service was uneven both times. Once was a Friday night, the other was late in the afternoon on a Saturday during the last heat wave and nobody else was in there except for 2 to-go orders. The first time the owner came by and was very chatty. Second time I think most of the kitchen staff were on break b/c all we ordered were the potato appetizers w/ sauce (not particularly memorable. I wished we'd gotten the yuca instead.) and 2 orders of ceviche which "seemed" to take a long time. I also realize that ceviche has to sit for the right amount of time to marinate and overmarinated ceviche is eh.

                  However, for the quality and quantity of food at that price point (ceviche lasted 2 meals b/c they give you so much fish), I'm willing to wait for slower service.

                3. Sundays there is now Feijoada to be had at Latin Chef. I asked about parts of the pig used, and it sounds pretty legitimate. Going to check this out in one of the coming two sundays with my portuguese class friend.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    Any recent reviews of Latin Chef? We're thinking about taking some out of town guests there but have never been and there's no recent reviews, so we were wondering...... Especially how is the ceviche?

                    1. re: keena

                      I haven't had it recently, but it has been consistently good every time I've had it. I prefer the pescado to the mixto. Emphasis is on good fresh toothsome fish. Nice large slices.

                  2. How does Latin Chef compare to Qero up in North County?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: SDGourmand

                      Latin Chef is half the price and none of the Qero attitude.

                      1. re: Pablo

                        We'll be going then. I love Peruvian ceviche so I am looking forward to it.