Chicha Restaurant

Chicha Restaurant

Chicha Restaurant introduces diners to modern Peruvian food
which proves to be the ultimate workout for your taste buds
as it navigates your taste buds to a
culinary fusion of bright vibrant flavours

My first experience with Peruvian food was a few years ago in New York at a quaint Peruvian East Village haunt called  La Cerveceria where I was completely bowled over by the unique combination of flavours. At that time, I was unaware that Peruvian cuisine is a blend of German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, North African and Spanish cuisine resulting from those ethic groups immigrating into Peru since the 1800s

Since my first taste encounter with Chicha Restaurant at one of Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting Plates, I’ve been dying to come back to Chicha. As luck would have it, I received a media invite to their new menu tasting, which tasting adventure I would describe as the ultimate workout for your taste buds as new flavour combinations that you never possible will implode inside your mouth and rock your culinary world.


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Not quite a pisco virgin as a bartender gave me a shot of pisco liquer in Havana, a Cuban bar in New York (I’m not telling what I did to get a free shot unless you buy me a shot wink wink) but I’ve never had a Pisco Sour which is a delicious slightly tart and refreshing drink made of Pisco liquor, key lime or lemon juice, egg white and Angostura bitters.  Chicha serves different variations of Pisco Sours from regular, strawberry and Earl Grey.  Priced regularly at $10, but only $6 during happy hour times:  5-6:30pm daily and 9:30-11pm, Sunday-Thursday, All day Sunday and on Pisco Tuesdays all day.  There’s also an interesting drink called Margarita Patada which is Jalapeno infused pisco, Contreau and fresh lime with a chilli salt rim.


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Cancha Salada (roasted salted corn) made from  Maiz cancha, is a special corn variety of Peru which is roasted and served as a snack in authentic Peruvian restaurants.  The kernels of this corn are larger than the North American variety and when roasted with salt delivers a very crunchy snack that is much more satisfying than a bowl of popcorn.


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Yuca Ball with Huancaína Sauce (spicy cream cheese sauce), jalepeno jelly and lotus chips.  Move over roasted potatoes, as these Yuca Balls kick ass with their crispy crust with a dab of Huancaína sauce (spicy white cheese sauce) in the centre of the orb. I loved sweet, yet spicy jalepeno jelly and thinly sliced lotus chips that accompanied this. Yuca is also referred to as cassava and is a starchy root vegetable grown in Peru that is a staple served with meals like yam has more texture and flavour than a potato.


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Pan Con Chicharron 13:  Fraser Valley pork belly and glazed sweet potato sliders. This is a Asian pork dream come true as it’s the red onion cilantro that heightens the flavour of the savoury tender pork belly and makes me squeal with delight. Here piggy piggy.


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The sangria was served in traditional Peruvian style and seemed to have more depth in flavour than the sangrias I’ve had in Spain as it has red wine, pisco and chica morada. Chica morada is a Peruvian drink made by boiling blue corn with pineapple, cinnamon, clove, and sugar and as a result, it seems to add a mulled spice flavour to the sangria.

On the menu at Chicha, there’s only two ceviches listed – the Classico and Mixto (mixed seafood), but daily features might include a ceviche made of wild salmon or even spotted prawn and shrimps.  But nevertheless, the common denominator in the three ceviches we tried was freshness. There’s only a slight citrus taste remnant of the lime marinated ingredients and a
careful blending of fresh herbs and spices that never outshine the seafood ingredients.


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The vibrant red colour of the salmon popped as did the taste of the Salmon Ceviche:  Nikei Wild Salmon, ginger, passion fruit, ponzu, lotus chip, nori


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I feel as though I’m in the presence of a ceviche master as Chef: pulls off another great ceviche dish which smacks of fresh halibut and tuna and layers which are intermingled with yellow peppers, onions and fresh herbs.


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Classico ceviche with white fish:  this is a simple dish with few ingredients, but because it’s executed well, the flavour speaks volume.


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Cangrejo: aji amarillo whipped potato, crab salad, mango, avocado. All the layers of this are reminisicent of the classical potato salad but with a lot more pizzaz as the aji amariloo peppers give it a little burst of wonderful heat and what’s not to like about the combination of crab, mango and avocado?


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Antichuchosor (Peruivian grilled skewers) – Pulpo y Chorizo: octopus, chorizo, Peruvian black olive aioli, basil and aji amarillo mashed. I would have to say that this is my favorite octopus dish as the octopus is tender but still retains a very firm texture and the pool of black olive aioli and aji amarillo peppers together create the perfect fragrant sauce accompaniment of savory and spicy.


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Pan seared halibut with mesquite corn sauce and fried gnocchi. A fusion of  Italian with Spanish cuisine, this dish is a real winner as the mesquite corn sauce has a delicious distinct smokey flavour I’ve never tasted before and I really loved the gnocchi which was fried until it was crispy and crunchy.


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Pineapple and Jalapeno Cheesecake with pineapple and rum compote with Picarones – Peruvian pumpkin, sweet potato donuts with Pisco raspberry sauce.

Does jalapeno work with pineapple, cream cheese and rum compote?  Hell, yes.  The sweetness of the pineapple and rum compote somehow goes well with the heat of the jalapeno and creamy richness of the cream cheese.  My only complaint – as I’m lactose intolerant, I could only have a small taste.

Picarone- sweet potato and pumpkin Peruvian donuts with spiced honey and raspberry sauce.  Light and crispy with tart raspberries, what I couldn’t eat in cheesecake, I made up in the mountains amount of picarones I ate.

By the end of the menu tasting, Chicha wowed me over so much with its bright vibrant flavours that I was already looking planning what menu items to have on my next visit.  I’d recommend that you bring in you whole flock of friends so that you can taste the entire menu as every single bite paves the way to the next perfect bite.


Shelome Bouevette and Kumiko Umeno

Shelome Bouevette and Kumiko Umeno

About Chicha Restaurant

After Shelome Bouevette left Lolita’s South of the Border Cantina, she went on vacation to Peru and was inspired to open Chicha with Allison Flook  and Kumiko Umeno.  I wanted to do something different and after spending a week in Peru, the idea of Chicha was born”.  Shelome has also worked at Bin 942, the Alibi Room, Delilah’s, Mescelero’s, and Allegro.  Allison Flook is the other half of our executive chef team at Chicha’s who was the chef at Gudrun in Steveston.  Allison has also worked with Shelome at the Alibi Room, Lolita’s, and Bin 942.  Allison and Shelome spent months researching Peruvian food, spent time in Peru experiencing the food and culture, and are constantly having fun bouncing ideas back and forth deciding on new creative Peruvian inspired dishes.

Kumiko Umeno is the general manager and third partner at Chicha Restaurant. Kumiko worked 15 years front of the house in various Vancouver locations before leaving the industry in 2008 for a career in financial services.  She left her financial services career in early 2013 to start Chicha with Allison and Shelome.

Author

Dianne

Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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