After wondering through Plaza De Armas, it was now time for lunch. Before leaving our hotel, I did a search for restaurants around Plaza De Armas with good reviews on TripAdvisor that was within walking distance of the Historic Core Of Lima. I turned on Google Maps on my iPhone and followed the directions to Restaurant Don Juan which was about half a mile away.
According to TripAdvisor, Restaurant Don Juan specializes in traditional Peruvian Food, which was exactly what we were looking for. The pictures uploaded by previous customers looked delicious so we decided to give Don Juan a try. After walking the less than half a mile distance to Restaurant Don Juan, we were seated immediately without having to wait. Once we were seated, a plate of cancha corn nuts were delivered to our table. I looked over the menu and after consulting with my parents on what they wanted to eat, I decided on lomo saltados for my dad and myself and the parihuela seafood soup for my mom.
Our waitress came over to take our orders and answer any questions that we might have. When I asked for two lomo saltados, the waitress asked me if we wanted the regular or the more expensive one. I asked the waitress what the difference was and she told me the more expensive lomo saltado was made with beef that was more tender. I told the waitress that we wanted the more expensive version with the tender beef. Finally, I ordered my mom her seafood soup and ordered beverages for our lunch.
After ordering our lunch, silverwares and napkins were delivered along with our drinks. I ordered Inca Kolas for my dad and myself to drink. This was my dad’s first time trying Inca Kola and he did not like it very much. I have had Inca Kola before back home in the US at Peruvian Restaurants so I was familiar with the soda. Inca Kola is not my first choice of beverage when home but since I was in Peru, I decided to drink what the Peruvian’s were drinking. 99% of the customers in the restaurant were either drinking Chicha Morada or Inca Kolas.
Shortly after our drinks arrived, our waitress brought over a small container of Aji Sauce along with a small plate of what she called their house salad. The house salad was more like a marinated cabbage than a salad. On first taste, it was really evident that both the Aji and the house salad were loaded with MSG. Neither one of us finished the complimentary salad.
When our lunch dishes finally arrived, I was amazed at the huge portions, especially my mom’s seafood soup. Her bowl of soup was big enough for two orders or enough to share if having the soup as an appetizer among at 4-6 people back home. Both the lomo saltado and the parihuela seafood soup at first glance, looked exactly like the Peruvian Food that we have been eating back home. Flavor wise, both of the parihuela seafood soup and the lomo saltados tasted similar to what we have been eating at Los Angeles area Peruvian Restaurants. My mom’s soup did have more variety of seafood and even a type of seaweed which as far as I know are not used in parihuela’s in the US.
The lomo saltados tasted fine but seemed a little drier than what I am normally used to. Since we are in Peru, I am going to assume the dry version is the more authentic version than the ones my dad and I had eaten back home. I also thought that the cook over did it with the fries a bit. If I had known how much fried potatoes would be put in it, I would have asked the waitress to put in less. While the beef was tender, I did not think it was better enough to justify the extra price we paid. If this is the upgraded version, I can only imagine how tough the beef in the regular lomo saltado is.
While paying our bill, I did run into some communication problem but in the end it was all sorted out. Even though the credit card receipt shows a line for tips, the waitress tried to explain to me that I could not put tips on the receipt. It took couple of slow tries in Spanish for me to finally understand that even though the credit card receipt has a tip line, the restaurant can not modify or add the tip as an adjustment. After finally understanding the waitress, I crossed out the tip portion, just signed the receipt and left a cash tip on the table.