This is an innovative space, economizing by using the large reception area of LimaYoga; there are only four two-seater tables and one low table for six diners. The kitchen counter is a bare-bones workspace used to put together some pre-assembled components, but there probably is some real cooking happening there too. Franco – the charming and talkative young owner with experience in many kitchens – has only been a veggie for a year and enthusiastically explains how he does things here with such organization and zen simplicity. We tried the mini veggie burger and the artisanal sandwich with aubergine and guac; both ($2) were very fresh, tasty and firmly textured. The lasagne ($8) was excellent though, served baked and neatly composed of tomato and aubergine layers, with a crisp green salad. The portion size is great for a decent appetite. The dessert – a thin chocolate shell-cap over a ball of spongy cream cheese and quinoa – was transcendent. Home-made lemonade ($1 for a tiny glass) mixed with coca and ginger, is the most refreshing I’ve ever had, and service is elegant and attentive. It can be quiet on Sundays and maybe a little music would do well to fill the arid space when the yoga studio is closed. They also sell all manner of organic sauces, grains, pastes and condiments – chocolate too! Highly recommended.
We’d heard that the food here was overpriced and underwhelming so we just had cocktails. The Pisco sour kion ($7) made with ginger syrup, was strong and punchy but the Giradito ($6) was a perfect blend of mango and peach with a dash of grenadine. The location, 200m out in the Pacific Ocean – is spectacular, and waves crash all around you. The layout of the space allows for privacy, intimacy and no doubt some classy adultery. Ambient and electronic sounds turn into light house and garage when the sun goes down. Prices for the bar food aren’t bad at all; we’ll order something next time we’re here just for the sake of it.
This place does sushi as well as Thai dishes, and most of it is reasonably priced. Though it has had some bad reviews, and it seems its special offers and attitude have been inconsistent, we found no fault on our Maundy Thursday visit. We tried the spicy tuna rolls, two huge constructions that resembled handrolls. The chunks of tuna were strangely shaped, neither flakes nor of a mashed texture, but were well dressed in an ají-style mayo in a nigiri wrap.
The Pad Thai was a good version of one of my favourite dishes, packed full of small prawns, but the vegetable curry was a little disappointing. Service is good and the ambience is fine on a busy night. A free soft drink comes with every main, and their Chicha is worth ordering.
We ate here twice in the same week, and I would definitely recommend a takeaway rather than sitting in its basic greasy-spoon space which only has any atmosphere when there are more than a dozen diners present. Service can be lacklustre, but prices are certainly good: $3.50 for starter portions of veggie dishes and $5-$8 for mains, the prawn curries being the priciest. Their channa masala was good, palak paneer – though lacking proper chunks of paneer – fiery and tasty, and the tarka daal surprisingly complex and hearty. The butter chicken was also excellent, and a lot of effort had gone into the pilau rice. The naan was disappointing as it resembled nothing fluffy and light, but was made from a wholemeal flour and so could have been more accurately described as a paratha. The owners are Pakistani, so it is surprising that there are no lamb or gosht dishes offered, but they do mainstream Indian cuisine very competently.
This is the only branch of Gaston Acurio’s restaurant empire that specialises in Andean cuisine, different to T’anta’s ‘NovoAndina’ dishes, the expression of Lima’s Criollo food culture.
We tried the Kapchi de Setas y Habas (S/.30) which was a hearty, though slightly bland, creamy stew of beans and thick sauce. The breads served with ají were excellent, as were the cocktails: a refreshing De Rompe y Raja and a creamy one that would have been best accompanied by a sweet teatime pastry.
The other table’s suckling pig looked very tasty, and given another chance I’d have ordered that instead. La Alta kept me on the vegetarian tip that evening though.
However, it was the dessert we shared that impressed us the most: Ravioles Crocantes de Aguaymanto, small parcels of the jungle fruit (served with a delightful cinnamon ice cream) which crunched and crackled and was enhanced by sticky textures and surprising flavours.
ChiCha is not cheap, but is definitely a great opportunity to escape the mass of touristy restaurants in central Cusco. The beautiful dark-wood dining room is bookended by a classy bar and an open kitchen. Service is very friendly and helpful, the atmosphere laid-back and unpretentious, and the food unlike anywhere else in the world.