Located at Bonifacio One Technology Tower, a new restaurant opened last Sunday, August 9, now welcoming customers to have a taste of Peruvian cuisine without having to leave Manila.
Cocina Peruvia is the latest food concept brought to life by the same group that brought international brands COCA and Mango Tree Bistro to the Philippines. Through this new restaurant in BGC, Manila can now have a taste of the specialties of Peru, which has an eclectic mix of flavors similar with Latin American cuisine, combined with coastal fare, and Asian influences brought about by immigrants from Japan and China.
To keep the flavors fresh, ingredients are imported to create the main sauces for Cocina Peruvia's dishes, and currently they make four kinds of sauces to pair with different kinds of savory items to suit to your taste -- there's Aji Verde (green aji sauce with chilies), Aji Amarillo (hot yellow chili pepper common in Peru), Chimichurri (a personal favorite, a green paste potent with coriander, parsley, and garlic), and Crema de Rocoto (a pinkish spicy sauce made with rocoto chili peppers).
Ceviche, Peru's most popular dish, is something familiar to our local palate as our counterpart to this raw seafood dish marinated in citrus is our kinilaw. The restaurant offers Ceviche Mixto which is a combination of marinated shrimp, mussels, squid, and octopus in aji amarillo, lemon, and leche de tigre ('tiger's milk,' a Peruvian term for the citrus marinade used in curing the ceviche's seafood). Taking the more Japanese route is the Ceviche Nikkei, a salmon and jack fish (talakitok) ceviche marinated in in leche de tigre, soy, coconut milk, and lemon.
Another aperitivo (appetizer) you can try is the Avocado & Tofu Salad, a healthy plate of raw tofu cubes with avocado, edamame, garlic chips, sesame oil, and lemon. To showcase Peru's love for potatoes (they have many varieties and use other tubers in their cuisine), there's the Causa, a cold Peruvian appetizer of potatoes that is usually mashed and layered with other ingredients; at Cocina Peruvia, it's served as a spicy chunky potato salad of avocado, prawns, and hard boiled egg.
Peru also has its own version of our favorite barbecue street-side fare with their Anticuchos. These Peruvian-style skwered meats are sold in street carts like our own barbecued treats, and are served with traditional dressings. The Anticucho de Pollo is very tender pieces grilled chicken on a stick, served with aji amarillo and chimichurri sauces. For something heartier, with more depth in flavor and texture, must-try is the Anticucho de Corazon de Vaca (P290/3pcs), three skewers of grilled beef heart, also served with aji amarillo and chimichurri sauces. The restaurant's blend of chimichurri is actually perfect with any protein served, and you might just want to request for more of it -- it's quite addicting. Rice dishes are also available, like the flavorful Arroz con Mariscos (seafood rice) tossed with shrimp, mussels, and squid, spiced with aji amarillo.
Plato Principales (mains) at Cocina Peruvia are hearty and good for sharing, and has a mix of both seafood and meat options to please whatever kind of carnivorous or pescatarian cravings one may have. The renowned saucy Peruvian specialty Lomo Saltado (P450) is on the menu, a dish of marinated beef tenderloin stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, and fried potatoes that were terribly addicting to eat because the thick fries were soaked in the lip-smacking sauce. This dish is also commonly served with rice in Peru, and definitely sits well with our Filipino sensibilities of extra rice.
The Pescado al Ajillo (P450) is good value for money, a platter of thick cut gindara cooked a la planca (pan-fried) with shrimps and smothered with garlic butter sauce and lemon. For steak lovers, order the Bistec a la Plancha (P700) to share. The seared Kitayama flank steak slices are cooked perfectly, served with string beans, and topped with aji panca (pepper sauce) and chimichurri. I found myself slathering more and more of the chimichurri sauce with every slice of steak; and as I sink my teeth into the flavor-loaded beef, I wonder if the restaurant won't mind if I order a huge bottle of the leafy green sauce to bring home with me.
Cocina Peruvia is now open, located at the ground floor of Bonifacio One Technology Tower in BGC. It is right across Recovery Food in Bonifacio Stopover, Rizal Drive corner 31st Street. Open daily from 11am to 10pm. Call 955-9975, Like on Facebook and follow on Instagram (CocinaPeruviaPH).