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Feb 6, 2012 02:50 PM

Tierra Peru, Islington, London

A newish Peruvian place on Essex Street.

Addictive tasty cancha/toast corn.

Great anticuchos, grilled beef hearts with a savoury marinate, tender yet decisively snappy in texture. Excellent sauce, pepper heat with herbs in the background. Further enhanced by the side of rocoto pepper sauce, which cranks up the heat quite a bit.

The marinated fish with aji amarillo and lime was excellent -- supple texture in the fish slices, sharp lime juice with tangy aji amarillo. Wonderfully supported by boiled and roasted corn.

Main courses were ordinary-ish. A dried potato stew with lots of small cubes of potato, a chicken thigh, and a pork rib was decently flavoured with a vaguely tomatoey(?) base. Aji de gallinha, a classic Peruvian dish seemed a little more like chicken in a cream sauce, and would have benefitted with more of the namesake peruvian pepper; was otherwise homey with slightly overboiled eggs (blueish copper tinge around the yolk).

Picarones, freshly made donuts was fairly basic, somewhat home-style and basic, but could have been more crisp on the surface; a sweet sticky syrup made from (raw?) cane sugar (iirc) for dipping.

Chica morada, their purple corn drink, tasted a bit like a tropical drink mix, somewhat different from the usual corny flavour.

The quality of the starters make me think that there's serious cooking going on; will have to be back to see if the other main courses are better.

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  1. Pisco sours were ok -- sharp and sour with a frothy top; lighter and less creamy/eggy than some I've had elsewhere.

    1. Hmm, sounded like a less than satisfactory meal? I liked Peruvian rice, which tasted almost (90%?) like Singapore's Hainanese chicken rice. Would certainly like to try this place, the only Peruvian I'd tried was in Oakland, CA:

      1 Reply
      1. re: klyeoh

        It was surprisingly mixed. Starters were great, but mains only decent. Don't know what to make of it yet.

      2. Thanks for the review Limster, despite being local it doesn't sound like somewhere to dash to. At first glance it could have been my review of Sabor nearby - good starters, average mains.

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. Quick notes from a recent visit:

            Tamalito de pollo - chicken seemed a bit overcooked, but good texture and flavour in the corn coating

            Cebiche mixto - nice sourness and chilli heat, seafood perhaps cured a bit
            more than I'd have liked

            Papa a la HuancaĆ­na - very good texture to the sauce, glossy and well
            emulsified, mild flavour. Boiled egg a tad overdone (black line around the

            Parihuela - good flavour to the broth but they hadn't removed the membrane from the squid. White fish cooked perfectly. Also liked the fresh
            citrus-marinaded onion in this.

            Arroz chaufa de mariscos - a Chinese-Peruvian dish, fried rice with seafood. I liked that it wasn't too oily.

            Lomo saltado de carne - loved the chips soaked in the sauce, and the accompanying plain white rice went well with the sauce too. Beef could maybe have been trimmed a little better, as there were some overly chewy bits.

            Yuca frita - great texture, not greasy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kake

              Thanks for posting your notes, essentially the same impression from me.

              Loved the huancaina sauce -- excellent technique in getting that sauce perfectly smooth.

              I think for the moment I would give a slight edge to Tito's for the lomo saltado and aji de gallinha. Tierra Peru's lomo saltado was pretty good, but with a bit more of a vinegary flavour; contrast with the touch of a Worcestershire sauce-like flavouring in Tito's version, that is also slightly more greasy. Tierra Peru had better chips in their lomo saltado though.

              I wasn't crazy about the roe with the scallops as they weren't at their absolute sweetest, but that's perhaps a quibble.

              I also enjoyed a creamy algarrobina cocktail, slightly foamy on the surface, with sweet cinnamony and dark syrupy flavours.