Monday, October 03, 2005

Las Quenas

Everyone loves Peruvian food. Not only because Peru is the original home of the potato, but its cuisine is a beguiling mixture of Spanish, indigenous and sometimes Chinese influences. I was thus thrilled to discover Las Quenas [(818) 764-3962, 12708 Sherman Way, North Hollywood] around the corner from the incandescent Thai restaurant Swan. Las Quenas passes the ethnic restaurant test - it's full of Peruvians and the food is predictably great. Here's what my friend Alvaro and I enjoyed:

Ceviche - I'm pretty sure that raw fish in an acidic (often citrus) marinade has evolved more than once - in fact I sampled a tremendous version at my Tongan friend's 21st birthday party. That said, Peruvians are justifiably famed as the perfecters of the dish, as the ceviche pescado here demonstrates. The fish is impeccably fresh and the dressing has a nice amount of raw onion bite.

Causa rellena - Here the Peruvian potato staple is mashed and layered with mayonnaisy, lime-scented tuna. According to Alvaro, the number and composition of the layers can differ, but we both liked this version as a potato alternative to the classic papas ala huancaina that I normally order.

Lomo Saltado - Certainly in anyone's list of most essential Peruvian dishes, this stir fry of beef steak strips, french fry-sliced potatoes, peppers and tomatoes is irresistable. Alvaro gave it a hearty thumbs up at Las Quenas.

Cau-cau - Leave it to the low end theorist to order tripe stew in face of delightful tallarins, saltados, chaufa and Peruvian whatnot. This was actually very good, with a greenish cilantro flavoured sauce and tender tripe.

Alfajor - The pumpkin doughnut-type thingies called picarones are available here, but we opted for alfajores, shortbread biscuits sandwiched around a supersweet layer of caramel. They were great, with a much thicker caramel layer than storebought ones.

As in other Peruvian restaurants I've enjoyed, the accoutrements are all here, from violent crimson chicha morada (corn drink) to crusty cardboard rolls and most importantly the wonderful green chilli and garlic sauce called aji. I have yet to find this a store in LA, but with Alvaro's recent arrival on the scene this lacuna in my pantry cannot last long. Give Las Quenas a try and satisfy your Peruvian jones!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try Picante de Mariscos, It's really good!!

1:23 PM  

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