In 2010, I had the pleasure of visiting Peru. Before going, I did some research, and everything I read about the country talked about how good the food was. Initially, I was surprised, not knowing much about the country or cuisine.
Nobody was exaggerating. The food in Peru is outstanding. The focus is on fresh ingredients instead of manipulating the food and using too much spice or sauces. A potato tastes like a very good potato. People, from fine dining places, to places on the side of the road, take pride in the food they are preparing. For example, we visited a family who lived on an island in lake Titicaca. For lunch, they served us a simple grilled fish, perfectly cooked (no sauce, and seasoned with just salt and pepper). The fish probably just came out of the lake and it was simply delicious. Another dish I fell in love with was Pescado a lo macho. Upon returning to Vancouver, I tried to find authentic Peruvian restaurants, but there weren’t any. I tried to re-create some of the dishes at home, but of course, could not exactly replicate what I had experienced in Peru. On a trip to San Francisco, I was extremely excited to try La Mar - big disappointment. Although they did have the pescado a lo macho on the menu, the taste was simply bland and nothing like the dish I had in Peru.
Fast forward to 2013, on a rainy Sunday in Vancouver, I decided to look for unique restaurants in Vancouver for lunch, and decided I would see if any Peruvian restaurants had opened up, and there it was – Silvestre. We walk in the door, see bottles of Inca Kola for sale, and knew immediately – this is going to be good!
Here is what we had:
Chicha de Jora. Corn beer. This stuff was strong. Sweet – reminded me of an apple cider but without the carbonation. Our server said that they imported this from Peru.
Tiradito De Pescado (Ceviche) – Ever since I first had ceviche in Peru I loved it. I remember conversing with our driver in Lima who told me that “you can make ceviche when you get back to North America, but it will not taste the same, you cannot get the same quality ingredients”. I have tried to make ceviche, and while it was good, the driver was right. Until now, this dish was very close to what we experienced in Peru down to the large corn kernels and sweet potato on the side. Very good.
Pollo A La Brasa - Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken. In Peru, we never had this dish, but I read some reviews that said this was a must order so we did. Skin is very well seasoned, flavorful. The inside is not too moist but not dry. Served with three kinds of spicy condiments. This dish was also very good.
Escabeche de pescado - I asked our server if they had Pescado a lo macho, he said no, but recommended this as a similar dish. Fish in a red sauce with onions and peppers. Served with rice, and as with all things in Peru, potato. It was outstanding. So yummy. The fish was perfectly cooked and the flavor was perfect.
Anticuchos (beef heart skewers). I’m a bit embarrassed to say, we did not try this dish in Peru, and this is the first time we have tried these. The smell of these grilled skewers as they hit the table was amazing! About the only other thing I have smelled as good, that is grilled, is when ordering something grilled with charcoal imported from Japan at Raku in Las Vegas. The meat was tender, and bursting with flavor.
We finished with Picarones - Recommended by the staff. EVERYTHING on the plate is made in-house fresh to order. The donut is made from pumpkin or squash and sweet potato. The syrup is home-made from molasses, orange, and various other ingredients. The donut is light, crispy on the outside, and like a pillow when you bite into it. The inside is a bit doughy and not dry like typical donuts. I’m not usually a fan of sweets, but these were delicious.
Finally, we finished this outstanding meal with Peruvian coffee. I will definitely be back here. They have so many things on the menu I want to try like their Chifa dishes. These are unique in Peru. Chifa refers to Chinese dishes that are cooked using Peruvian ingredients. We visited a Chifa restaurant in Puno and it was very satisfying.
Overall, this is a very authentic, Peruvian, family run restaurant. They have a very diverse, authentic, and large menu, of various Peruvian dishes. I look forward to going back.
Overall rating – 8/10