Anticucheria Danessi - peruvian quick-take
A quick comment: thanks to streetgourmetla. I'm short on time right now, but I wanted to quickly post my reaction to Anticucheria Danessi;
That is the reaction.
Grilled heart skewers: awesome. Totally, unreservedly awesome.
Lomo saltado (beef stir-fried with french-fries) - best saltado I've had in LA, and I've had a *lot* of saltados.
Chichas. There are two chichas. This is purple corn drink. One is chicha mora, I think, which is kind of dull, especially compared to the chicha wonderlands of Puro Sabor and Los Balcones. It is the usual chicha. Then there is chicha.. jugo? juro? Somethin' like that. It's lightly fermented chicha. It tastes like wild, punked-out, potentially hallucinogenic sweet citrus version of Belgian beer. When the lady brought us our chichas, and found out we hadn't had chicha jugo before, she actually tried to take it back... she was totally sure we'd hate it. She seemed shocked that we loved it. It is dense, very luminously and roundly yeasty, and wonderful. I can see how this would disturb people. This is the Extreme Bizarro version of a purple corn drink. It is WEIRD. It is great.
Those fried sweet potato dessert things... that start with a 'p'... they're the first thing on the menu. Anyway, they're great, and possibly better than Puro Sabor's.
So, short version:
Of the Peruvian places I've tried, Danessi and Puro Sabor stand out in my mind. Puro Sabor's strengths: fried seafood, ceviche delicate sauces on pumpkin, brilliant unfermented chicha, pretty much, and pretty much genius all around. Lomo saltado and beef heart skewers were relatively dull. Danessi's strengths: meat. Grilled meat. Genius lomo saltado of balance and wonder.
Both stand sigifincantly above Mario's and Los Balcones in my book, which, in turn, stand significantly above all other Peruvian places I've yet tried (excluding wood-fired chicken specialty places, which have a ranking of their own.)
I should do a longer comparison of Peruvian places sometime soon.
Anyway: I'm going back to Danessi this week, such is my hunger. It's wonderful.
Chicha morada is non-alcoholic. It is made by boiling purple corn with pineapple rinds, cloves, and cinnamon, and adding lime juice and sugar after it has been strained. Chicha de jora, on the other hand, is a fermented (alcoholic) drink. It varies depending on where in Peru you have it. It most often is NOT purple in color.
Have you tried liver anticuchos? I can't stand liver, but my mom and other members of my family swear by them.
The best anticuchos in Lima, Peru are at Tío Mario in Barranco and Anticuchería de Grimanesa, a street cart on the corner of Enrique Palacios and 27 de Noviembre in Miraflores. Doña Julia, which someone mentions above, is also pretty popular. Everybody has high expectations for Gastón Acurio's new anticuchería, scheduled to open in the near future (I, for one, cannot wait to try his new juguería, or juice bar, which just opened). I have yet to try anticuchos in L.A., so thanks for the review.
Great to know about this - can't wait to try it.
I went to Mo-Chica earlier this week, which I've been meaning to try but was compelled to go after JGold's review. No anticuchos, but a killer lomo saltado. The meat was cut in more cube-like form than strings, which is the way I always had lomo saltado at home and at most restaurants (I grew up in Lima). The rice is not the best peruvian rice I've ever had, but it doesn't need to be with the great meat it accompanies.
We had the aji the gallina, which was also a star. Very aromatic, the walnuts were perfectly sized, not too big, so just provide little surprises when they show up on your fork.
The third entree we tried was the arroz con mariscos. I must say that while I liked it, because it had a smokey flavor, it was the least favorite among the group I was eating with.
For appetizers, we had the papa a la huancaina, the ceviche, and the causa. I'm a sucker for papa a la huan, if you get the sauce right I devour it in a few seconds and it is always my favorite thing to eat. So, Mo-Chica got it right and the huancaina was gone shortly after arriving at our table. The causa was also great - served with aji verde, and I always like takes on causa that are not standard chicken or tuna. (this was crab).
The ceviche was very solid, but not my favorite. I very much liked that it was served with sweet potato, which to me is a MUST with ceviche, and it had some cancha with it. But, it just didn't blow me away, and I thought it could have been spicier.
I love that Mo-Chica serves you a little plate of aji amarillos (possibly roasted?) with every entree. Very nice touch.
They serve chicha morada, maracuya, and cebada! for drinks.
Danessi is next on my list, but after being somewhat disappointed with Balcones and Mario's, I'll be going back to Mo-Chica real soon. :)