Posted by: vivalatinamerica | May 3, 2012

Peruvian Food at Saqra Restaurant, Lima

The food of the Andes is warming and hearty, but low on seafood and lacking spices. I’ve spent the last six weeks or so chowing down on quinoa, rice and llama and alpaca meat. There are hundreds of different kinds of corn and even more varieties of potatoes.

The soups are fantastic – nothing beats a homemade soup after a long day of walking in cold weather. Packed with plenty of veg and sometimes angel hair pasta, it’s usually my favourite thing on the menu.

Paprika makes an occasional appearance, but on the whole the food is pretty bland. I’ve met backpackers armed with vials of pepper and stock cubes along my travels.

Visitors wash down their breaded meat with Chicha Morada, a purple corn-based drink, or coca tea. Peru’s Pisco Sour is the tipple of choice, which includes whisked egg white, lime juice, and of course Pisco, a harsh spirit that packs a punch.

For me, the food so far here has been a mixed bag. But when I get to Lima on the coast, I’m invited to Saqra, a fresh and exciting restaurant that promises to change my views on Peruvian cuisine.

The moment we arrive, it’s easy to see why this place is so highly acclaimed. The atmosphere outside on the terrace is cool and relaxed. There are giggling twenty-somethings and well-dressed power couples, but there’s no air of superiority that you tend to find in trendy hangouts. It’s actually very welcoming, and a nicely quirky. Inside, every chair is different, and has been handpicked and lovingly restored.

The menu is quirky too. Saqra means “little devil” in Spanish, so every dish has a naughty twist or an edge to it. The menu tries to sum up what Peruvians are eating today: a mix of mountain wholesomeness, jungle fruits and coastal seafood, plus international influences. And it’s all reasonably priced.

I feel it would be rude not to order a Pisco Sour, and instead of the spiky infusions I’m used to guzzling, this delicate cocktail is refreshing and ever so drinkable. It’s presented in a glass made out of a wine bottle (sustainability is important here) and adorned with a slice of starfruit.

I start with black pudding squares. Chicken-based with Asian flavours, these little mouthfuls are delightfully moreish. Afterwards, Calamari and swordfish beckons, but I go for a pepper steak. Juicy and succulent with a creamy pepper sauce, this indulgence rivals anything I’ve tasted in Argentina.

The decision on dessert is just as difficult, with homemade sorbets and rice pudding on offer. I go for deep fried doughnuts filled with banana (I’m on holiday), and wash it down with another delightful Pisco Sour.

By the end of the meal, I’m not only a Pisco Sour convert, but a Peruvian cuisine champion in general. Gracias, Saqra!

Cath Millman

Saqra Restaurant

Address: Av. La Paz 646, Miraflores. LIMA – PERÚ


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