Saturday, January 17, 2015

La Mar Cebicheria

When in Lima, you have to immerse yourself in the genuine cebicheria experience – and there is nowhere better to do so than at Gaston Acurio’s hot spot, La Mar Cebicheria. Stylishly designed – with a striking concrete façade jutting onto the tree-lined avenue and a bamboo roof over the airy dining area – La Mar is full of fashionable young Limenos as well as curious out-of-towners.

The main draw at La Mar is the raw marinated fish specialty itself, ably complemented by a vast selection of main dishes. The cebiche (also spelled 'ceviche' or 'sebiche') options are broad: tuna, sea bass, octopus, Dover sole, salmon and mixtures thereof. Go early or late for lunch (cebicherias are only open in the daytime, as tradition dictates) if you don’t want to stand in line – La Mar takes no reservations.  We arrived two minutes before the doors opened and were seated right away.

After walking along Miraflores overlooking the beach all morning, we were parched.  Keith had to try the Pisco Sour, naturally, and I tried a twist called Pastoruri which infused lychee and sake in the classic cocktail.  Keith immediately could tell how much fresher the piscos were here than those made in the States.

Our server was very friendly and accommodating to our limited Spanish.  We nibbled on plantain chips with various dipping sauces and a basket of dried corn - a common Peruvian snack.

Left to Right: Nikkei, Mixto, Clasico
We decided the Cebiche Degustación looked best and was a great deal to allow us to try a tasting of 3 cebiches: Clásico (white fish in classic tiger milk), Mixto (shrimp, octopus, scallops, squid), and Nikkei (tuna, with tamarind and soy sauce tiger milk).  Peruvian cebiches are a bit soupier than other versions, but are loaded with tons of lime juice.  My favorite was the clasico, where the large chunks of white fish shined within the classic marinade of limes, onions, and peppers.  The Nikkei clearly had Japanese references and was also fresh with the added slices of cucumber.  The seafood within the Mixto was super fresh, and its marinade was a bit spicier - as shown by the bright orange-red color.

Since we were just having lunch, we ordered one more 'street dish called Anticucho del Pulpocharred octopus on skewers, covered with chimichurri, small aji, and bits of fresh corn.  The octopus was incredibly tender and had lots of great flavor.  Though I've had octopus before in Spain and Greece, this preparation was unique and I really enjoyed this dish overall.

To accompany the rest of the meal, Keith tried his first Peruvian beer - a light pilsner variety called Pilsen, which was recommended by the server.  It was a little generic in the world of beers, but still refreshing.

The La Mar concept has recently been exported across South America and into the US, but the original still leads the pack.  We had a great first lunch in Lima here, which set a nice tone for the rest of our trip.

Total Rating: 4.45
Food: 5, Price: 3, Service: 4.5, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Cebiche Degustación
tasting of 3 cebiches:
Clásico (white fish in classic tiger milk), Mixto (shrimp, octopus, scallops, squid),
Nikkei (tuna, with tamarind and soy sauce tiger milk)

Anticucho del Pulpo
charred octopus with chimichurri, small aji

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