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Author: Subject: When in Chicago, be sure to Taste Peru!

True Peach





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  posted on 7/12/2008 at 11:46 AM
Taste of Peru
6545 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 381-4540
http://www.tasteofperu.com

Thursday evening, my wife, 13-year-old son and I had one of our most enjoyable dining experiences in a very long time. We were invited to sample the cuisine at Taste of Peru, a restaurant owned and operated by our very own Chicagofan (Julie).

We were a bit nervous going in. I’m pretty diverse in my tastes, and have sampled food from just about everywhere . . . everywhere except South America, as it turns out. I really had no idea what I was in for. Junior will eat anything that doesn’t try to eat him, so I wasn’t too worried about him, but my wife is VERY conservative in her tastes. What she likes to eat was established long before I ever met her, and she’ll seldom stray outside of her comfort zone. Despite her normal reservations, she agreed to try it out, so there we were.

I’ll admit it was a culinary adventure for us, there were a lot of things that were quite new and different, but I’m happy to report that all of the surprises were good ones.

Let’s have a look:

We wet our whistles with an “Inca Kola,” which was actually closer in flavor and color to a cream soda (with hints of fruit) then a Coke or Pepsi. It was very good. I did a little reading up on the drink afterwards, and it has quite a history. It may have the honor of being one of the few soft drink concerns to give the Coca-Cola company a solid ass-whoopin’ over an extended period in a national market. Interesting story; read up on it.

For starters, we used a very sophisticated method to pick an appetizer – we chose the item from the menu that had the strangest look. It looked like a big mound of orange pudding, but was actually the Papa a la Huancaina (sliced boiled potatoes in a cream cheese sauce). Boiled potatoes are of course pretty standard, but the sauce was a delicate mixture of cheese and cream with a subtle smokiness that had us starting off with small bites, moving onto fuller helpings, and then finally fighting over the final bits as our appreciation for the dish fully blossomed.

Next up, Ensalada de Mariscos (super-fresh seafood salad). This time we used an equally sophisticated selection method, we chose the item with the prettiest look. A huge platter of different colors and textures – mounds of fresh vegetables and fresh seafood tossed in a tasty lime dressing. Mmm, it was fantastic. Hey – if you’re looking for a light lunch for two, have a couple of Inca Kolas and split this salad – light on the fat, light on the carbs, and light on the wallet.

This appetizer and salad were perfect preparations for our two main courses. They had given us a hint of what was to come and left us hungry (literally) for more. This time, we went with those “in the know,” and choose the restaurant’s best-selling entrée the Lomo Saltado (rib eye beef sautéed with tomatoes, onion and French fries, cooked in beer and served over rice). An excellent, hearty dish, loaded with tender strips of steak and vegetables in a tangy sauce. The use of French fries as a vegetable in a dish like this was new to me, but it worked well, sort of like bits of potato in a stew.

I did say there were two main courses, so on to the star of the evening: Arroz con Mariscos (mixed seafood in a yellow rice).

Both the Spanish name and the English explanation are deceptively nondescript. This is the dish that Chicago Magazine in 2007 named “The Best Paella in Chicago” (and Chicago is a pretty big place).

I had seen paella on a few cooking shows - and I think it was the focal point of a subplot on a Seinfeld episode involving George’s parents - but I never actually had any before this. Simply put, this entrée changed me. Before this, I didn’t like scallops. I definitely didn’t like mussels, and the only squid I would eat was deep fried and loaded with marinara sauce. By the end of this meal, however, I was fighting with junior over the last mussel, and was shoving so many rings and tentacles into my mouth I felt like the Kraken from Clash of the Titans. All of this, and a generous portion of shrimp and crab legs mixed into mounds of saffron-infused rice made for an incredible dish.

Burp. Excuse me.

We were getting ready to wrap things up, when Julie insisted we try Brenda’s Flan. I’ve never really been a big flan fan, and I was stuffed already, but I didn’t want to be rude, so I agreed. Good heavens. If you ever check this place out, and you should, make sure you leave room for Brenda’s Flan (Brenda, by the way, is a young lady on the staff of the restaurant). This stuff was so sweet, rich and creamy, I would be surprised if it hasn’t led to at least a couple of marriage proposals. Even on a night when we’re not looking for dinner, popping in late for a slice of flan and and Inca Kola will be a distinct possibility. The flan alone is worth the visit.

As I said, all in all, this was one of the most unique and adventurous dining experiences we’ve ever had, and we’ll surely be back. If you find yourself in the city, and looking for something to eat that’s off the beaten path, will serve you exceptionally fresh and flavorful food in a cozy and comfortable environment, then you have to check out Chicagofan’s “Taste of Peru,” one of the true hidden gems of Chicagoland.

TopDroog
Gourmand Reporter
I Ate all your Peaches Magazine

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/12/2008 at 11:54 AM
Droog... so very, very cool of you to write up such a FANTASTIC review for our sweet sister Julie & Husbands Restaurant!!!

I adore her as she is the first one I met on here a few years back and am very close to her! I have kicked myself for not getting my arse to Chicago for a visit and a sample... what a wonderful review, thank you!

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/12/2008 at 12:00 PM
Very nice TopKraken.

 

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  posted on 7/12/2008 at 02:19 PM

Great review, Randy! You should submit that to the Tribune.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/12/2008 at 02:42 PM
Thanks Randy. Julie's restaurant has been given great reviews by the Chicago newspaper. This is enough to make me want to plan a vacation up that way. I am somewhat familiar with the food you describe, having lived in Central America for eight years. I have a very good friend from Brazil who makes a very rich creamy flan from her grandmother's recipe. Yum!

Julie, I hope to see you soon! Love Ya'

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 7/12/2008 at 07:52 PM
Good stuff.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/12/2008 at 09:30 PM
Thank you Droogie!
 

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  posted on 7/14/2008 at 09:06 AM
Many thanks to Droogie for the amazing review. Your hired!!!! We are a small storefront place but our food kicks butt. My husband put this together and we are going on our 10th year. Most of our reviews are very good. Most of the ones that aren't are by a competitor. Stop by when you can. Droogie, I hope you and your lovely family become regulars.
 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 7/14/2008 at 10:57 AM
Great review, Droogie! I love paella and I love flan and I love Chicago ... believe I may have just found another thing to love based on this review (and the other great ones I've read about Taste of Peru). Thanks!

Julie - now I REALLY can't wait to try you and your husband's restaurant!!!

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 8/17/2009 at 10:14 PM
Ah . . . just got back from yet another visit to the now HTW-legendary Taste of Peru.

I'm sure glad I wore my loose pants . . . and saved room for flan. Had the same entrees - I promised Julie I would dig a little deeper into the menu for my next visit - and skipped the ensalada this time, but tried a different appetizer: Peruvian Tamales. I tell ya, if you're looking for a hearty lunch, two of these babies will do you right. One is about the size of three traditional Mexican tamales, but they ain't growed the ear of corn big enough to produce a husk that will encase one of these monsters. Filled with spicy shredded chicken, olives and a few other goodies, these things were great. They're served under a layer of lime-drenched sweet onions (two varieties). If you're feeling adventurous, spread a generous coating of "green sauce" over them . . . and make sure you've got plenty of ice water on hand.

Thanks again, Jules.

 

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  posted on 8/18/2009 at 08:59 AM
My pleasure Randy. It was good to have you and Junior visit. Do it more often. Makes my heart sing to see two boys eat that way. Most folks leave with extra for home, but these boys cleaned those plates. Not a grain of rice left.
 
 


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