Peruvian food is not that very far from Filipino food. Both are heavily influenced by different cultures which came in contact with them. Cuisines brought in by colonizers have led to the development of each of their respective flavor profiles. And while all of us are familiar with how Filipino food tastes, not many are acquainted with the flavors of Peru.
If you’re a bit curious as to how Peruvian food tastes, there are actually a few restaurants which serve the cuisine here in Metro Manila. We recently tried the best for mid-priced Peruvian fare—Cocina Peruvia.
The first branch was established in August 2015, under Mother Spice Food Corporation. Its kitchen, led by chef Him Uy de Baron, takes pride in Peruvian home cooking that’s always fresh and dynamic—in the sense that each of their dishes have a wide range of ingredients and flavors.
Two years later, they opened at Ayala Malls Vertis North, and a third and most recent location in The Podium Mall, Ortigas, where we found ourselves hungry.
Inside the Podium branch, the most noticeable thing about the interiors and furniture are the vibrant and striking color scheme. Much like its other branches, there is a distinct air of freshness and homey-ness to the space, that pretty much reflect the food.
While Peruvian and Filipino food both have Spanish influences, surprisingly, they are actually quite distinct from one another when it comes to flavor profile. The food from the South American country is perfect for foodies with adventurous palates who are looking for bold flavors. What we observed is the restaurant incorporated Aji—a popular chili spice from Peru— in most of their dishes.
Here are some of their notable meals and drinks:
For appetizers, the Ceviche Mixto (P290) is a refreshing dish of marinated seafood. The incredibly fresh medley of shrimp, mussels, squid, and octopus, are doused in citrus juice, giving the dish a zesty entry with a piquant finish thanks to the Aji rocoto.
To wash down our starter, we ordered the Pineapple mint (P120), a thirst quencher that marries the tropical fruit with the cooling herb. Just hearing the name, you know it’s an invigorating concoction. For something stronger (if you know what we mean), we opted for the Coco Sour (P180), a cocktail that combines lambanog, lime juice, sugar syrup, egg white, and angostura bitters. It’s a very chill drink, you hardly feel there’s booze in it.
Their anticuchos or the Peruvian equivalent for our barbecue street food, are all worth trying. Among the three types of skewers they have, we had a go at the Salmon Skewers (P380) and the Beef Heart Skewers (P320). We really enjoyed the latter, which tastes remarkably similar to grilled liver. The third variant is Chicken Skewers (P280), and if you want all three, there’s the Mixed Skewers that comes in regular (P600) and grande (P1090) sizes.
The Jack Fish and Cassava Stew (P390) with its Jack fish, cassava, tomato, onion, and lemon, has a subtle flavor.
They also offer flatbread, like Margarita, Peruvia, Chorizo, and Seafood Pizzas. We tried the quasi-vegetarian Pizza Verde (P390), composed of “verde sauce” (green Mexican salsa), onions, chicken bits, cream and Mozzarella cheese, chimichurri, and arugula. It has just the right amount of sweet and pleasant spiciness to it.
The standout is the Seafood Carbonara (P280). The linguine pasta has shrimp, squid, mussels, butter, Aji amarillo, and an amazing Garlic cream sauce. The rich and versatile sauce has a mellow garlic flavor that accentuates the freshness of its seafood. It’s so good, you should definitely go for the grande (P520) size.
For our principales or mains, we went for the Adobo Peruvia (P400), pork belly cooked in a special cream sauce topped with salsa creole or “red gravy.” The tender, smoky pork coated in silky sauce has a bit of a savory-salty taste which we’re sure a lot of Pinoys would really enjoy. If you can’t get enough of it or you’re sharing with friends or family, it is available in a grande (P1190) serving.
To cap off our Peruvian food exploration, we had the Maize Panna Cotta (P190) and the Chocolate Pudding (P220). The Maize Panna Cotta is sweetened cream thickened with gelatin, that is topped with Central American grains and raisins. On the other hand, the chocolate pudding is topped with chocolate shavings and cherry.
Cocina Peruvia’s third branch is located on the 5th floor of The Podium, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.
Photos by Jules Vivas