After resting in our hotel room after our walk earlier, it was time to power up the Google Maps again and walk the half mile to Panchita Miraflores, which specializes in Criolla style Peruvian food. On our walk to the restaurant, I saw the largest Mc Donalds that I have ever seen anywhere in the world. We also got to witness Lima’s crazy traffic situation. Unless, your going far, I just can not see how taking a car or even one of chaotic private buses could be faster than walking in this town.
Once we arrived at Panchita, we were seated immediately by the hostess. Both inside and outside of the restaurant looked clean, modern and upscale. Since I had already researched this restaurant months earlier before arriving, I already knew what I wanted to order for the table. My parents usually leave the ordering for themselves to me, but my mom asked me to order fried yucca, on top of whatever else I was ordering. My mom enjoys fried yucca when we eat at Peruvian restaurants in Southern California, especially the yucca a la huancaina, which is fried yucca topped with a spicy cheese sauce.
I went ahead and ordered chicha morada, which is a drink made from purple corn for all three of us and then went ahead and ordered Panchita’s popular mixed appetizer platter to share, called “Piqueo Dona Pancha” along with the fried yucca as my mom requested and for the main course, I ordered another popular dish at Panchita’s, which comes with eight small portions of different Peruvian Criolla specialties to share, which is called “La Jarana Criolla”.
Shortly after placing our order, bread and assorted Peruvian Aji and sauces were delivered to our table. One thing I’ve noticed in Peru so far is that every restaurant has their own aji recipe and can vary wildly from restaurant to restaurant, even the ones with the same name. While some aji sauces taste similar to Mexican salsa like the red one in the picture above, others such as the the yellow one was completely new to me.
While we were trying not to overstuff ourselves on the bread and aji sauces, the mixed appetizer along with the fried yucca arrived. The yucca arrived with 5 different dipping sauces and the yucca itself tasted much softer than what we have eaten before in California. I’ve found fried yucca to be “gummy” in texture in the past but the ones at Panchita were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The texture of the outside felt and tasted as if it had been battered (it was not) and then deep fried. The waiter did try to explain to us all 5 of the sauces, but I pretty much forgot which one was what by the time I was done taking pictures. One of the sauces was definitely huancaina sauce. I was not expecting so many yuccas in one order. In the US, one order of yucca generally comes with four to five pieces but here, the waiter brought out what looked like a small mountain of yuccas.
The mixed appetizer arrived with eight different Peruvian dishes, not including the onions, which are normally sold as appetizer at Peruvian restaurants in the US. This platter gave us the opportunity to sample preppy much all the common Peruvian appetizer items in one sitting. From top clockwise:
- Papa A La Huancaina
- Causa Rellena
- Anticuchos (Beef Heart)
- Fried Yucca
- Chicharron (Deep Fried Pork)
- Choclo Covered In Huancaina
- Papa Rellena
Sarza Crillo, which is the lime tossed onion in the middle of the platter, really helps to clean and refresh the palate in between tasting the eight different items.
Finally, “La Jarana Criolla”, our main course arrived! At this point we were already stuffed but the three of us managed to make a big dent. One word of warning to my fellow Americans before you order the “La Jarana Criolla” in the picture. Many of the dishes shown above include ingredients such as tripe and blood, which are neither common nor popular food ingredients for many of us so you might want to avoid ordering this dish. If blood and tripe are your thing, then definitely try La Jarana Criolla out for yourselves when your in Lima Peru. Along with the main dish, Peruvian steamed rice and sarza criolla, lime tossed onions accompanied the meal.
My final thought on Panchita Miraflores is that they deserves their high ratings on TripAdvisor. There was not anything that I could fault them for and I myself gave them a 5/5 on TripAdvisor. As I have mentioned above, some food items use ingredients which one may not be familiar with but that is no reason to ding or leave a bad review of a restaurant. Their menu is extensive and offer plenty of dishes cooked with ingredients familiar to most Americans.