Gastón Acurio is kind of a big deal when it comes to Peruvian food, a chef turned chain restaurateur. In Santiago alone we’ve got the ultra-high-end Astrid & Gastón, casual Tanta and, most recently, the chifa – that’s Peruvian Chinese fusion – Madame Tusan. My favorite, however, is the fancy and fashionable cebichería La Mar.
It’s not cheap, but the food is creative and good, and the restaurant itself is light, airy and colorful. Just like the multi-colored potato chips and dipping sauces.
We shared shrimp cocktail causas to start. The base of any causa is potato mixed with ají amarillo, a yellow chili. This one then had a healthy serving of shrimp, a little lettuce, a spicy mayonnaise sauce and a tiny little hard-boiled egg. I’m not usually a mayo fan, but the spicy sauce really made this dish.
We also shared a ceviche mixto. When in
Rome a cebichería, right? Mixto just means mixed, which accounts for the combo of fish and other seafood. My mouth is watering just looking at this picture and remembering the lemon and onion flavors. Plus I’m a sucker for the giant corn.
My dad ordered his own ceviche as his main course since all of the regular ceviches are made with garlic (Dad’s allergic). Our waiter was quick to offer a basic lemon-only preparation just for my dad, which made him a happy customer.
Jane chose the tiradito nikei, tuna and salmon in a tamarind and sesame oil sauce. I’d gotten my fill of raw fish with our ceviche starter, but if I hadn’t, I would have been supremely jealous. This was seriously tasty.
Rodolfo and I picked rice-based dishes – him the arroz chaufa, fried rice with seafood, and me an ají amarillo risotto with shrimp. My risotto was creamy with just a touch of spice.
Rodolfo said his rice was also yummy, and as he’s somewhat of an arroz chaufa connoisseur, I’m inclined to trust his judgment.
Despite being inappropriately full, I somehow found room for a little tres leches cake for dessert. This I have to admit was good but not great. What was great but somehow escaped the camera were the pisco sours, however. There’s no Spanish translation needed for that particular Peruvian specialty – don’t miss them.
La Mar’s prices do include a bit of a mark-up for Gastón Acurio’s reputation, the restaurant’s chi-chi location, and the general scene. But considering how good the food is, the extra you pay isn’t enough to drive me away if I’m feeling like a splurge.
More in this series:
Saturday in Santiago
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