A cuisine that has recently taken the dining market by storm, Peruvian flavour is currently trending among consumers and here we highlight two of the best Peruvian restaurants in the city.
How popular is Peruvian cuisine in the Middle East?
Diego Sanchez, Head chef, Lima: Peruvian cuisine has become very popular in the region, with an influx of concepts over the past two years. A part of our philosophy at Lima Dubai is to educate our guests on the unique diversity of Peru’s offering, which I believe will continue to increase popularity as guests become more aware of the range of dishes, flavours and textures.
Earl Roland Puse, Head chef, Coya: Right now, Peruvian cuisine is happening and upcoming, everyone is talking about it. It all started with the opening of Toro Toro back in 2010. Its success eventually opened the doors to many more Peruvian venues and paved the road for success for us when we opened Coya Dubai in 2014.
What is your hero dish?
Sanchez: Catch of the day ceviche, one the most authentic Peruvian dishes, so versatile and best made with the freshest ingredients, combined with citrus and marinade. We hold firm to the Peruvian traditions and techniques, combining the catch of the day with finely chopped red onion, crispy cancah corn and our own Tiger’s milk, a citrus based marinade that cures the fish, creating a light and zingy dish packed with flavour and personality.
Puse: It is definitely our seabass cazuela, these flavours take you on a journey to flavourland. Due to the different types of cooking methods and a mix of Japanese and Peruvian ingredients, the seabass cazuela has been the top seller in all our Coya outlets worldwide.
Have you adapted Peruvian cuisine to suit local tastes?
Sanchez: Local taste is something that we have strongly considered which is why the menu at Lima Dubai is unique to this market and not just a replica of Lima London. Some of our ingredients are native to Peru and have very special and unique flavours that people here have never tasted before, so we made an effort to balance this with ingredients the local market will be more familiar with.
Puse: As we are a sharing concept restaurant the delivery of our dishes is an appealing factor for local guests. Recently we have been sourcing more local ingredients and showcasing them to our local guests, such as fish, herbs and spices.
What are the key trends emerging in Peruvian cuisine?
Sanchez: Globally, Peruvian cuisine is expanding into all markets around the world. We have noticed a trend moving towards using traditional ingredients from Peru as suppliers increase their holding capacity based on demand. Peruvian chefs are now using these ingredients with their own modern twists and creating more of a sharing experience around each dish.
Puse: Ceviche’s! This is the dish that separates Peruvian food from all other cuisines. When entering a Peruvian restaurant you know you are in for a treat, not just in the culinary side but also in the ambience and atmosphere.
Where do you source produce for your menu?
Sanchez: Most of my ingredients are sourced directly from Peru. Our local suppliers have been integral in achieving this.
Puse: We source our produce from our suppliers who directly work with local suppliers back in Peru. When we opened four years back we were fortunate that previous Peruvian outlets had already opened the market for a few main products like chilies, corn and spices. Although we still cannot source all the products we wish, we are slowly getting there. It’s just a matter of time until Peruvian cuisine becomes one of the most dominant one in the UAE.
What products do you find challenging to source?
Sanchez: Potatoes. Peruvian Potatoes are a key ingredient in truly authentic dishes. Peru has around 3500 different varieties of potatoes of which currently I can source only about eight. However I am working closely with our suppliers and hope to be including more varieties on the menu soon.
Puse: We have been trying to source out Amazonian river snails for almost two years. It is a product that still hasn’t reached UAE soil. We are trying to be the first ones to bring it over and aim to make everything from Peru available in the UAE for an unforgettable experience.
How do you see your menu evolving over the next 12 months?
Sanchez: Virgilio Martinez, executive chef at Lima and owner of Central Peru, is a person that creates new ideas every day, sometimes every hour and is constantly working to evolve our offering. London and Dubai are cities where people are always looking for something different, something new and on trend and we work alongside Virgilio to get ahead of trends and produce something unique.
Puse: As Coya becomes a brand of its own, on the way to opening our fifth venue in Monaco, we try to align our menus up to 60% and the remaining 40% to each chef’s preferences and location. We are continuously working on new dishes which will release them at the right time. So stay tuned.
What is the future for Peruvian cuisine?
Sanchez: Peruvian food has many facets and fusions and it is very important for a chef in Dubai using these techniques to consider the local market by transforming the fusions into modern creations yet being true to the cuisine. I believe the interest in Peruvian food will only increase as we are able to share our passion for the dishes we create and educate our guests on the true diversity of the cuisine.
Puse: The future is looking very prosperous especially for us at Coya. We have made a mark in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi in our first year and it’s only a matter of time until we source out all the products that we wish to have to be able to cook the dishes that will transport guests to Peru.