In many ways, international cuisine has seen a boom in the Philippines. We’ve embraced a multitude of foreign flavors that its become a modern movement in the local dining scene. A slurry of Spanish and Italian spots have popped up all around the metro, not to mention the countless Japanese and Korean restaurants scattered in almost every corner. But one nation that we’ve yet to fully taste with their unique flavors is Peru. It’s this gap that Cocina Peruvia fills with its Peruvian fare. It introduces South American flavors to the ever-discerning Filipino tongue.
Simple yet colorful in its setup, Cocina Peruvia’s Podium branch is quaint with its patterned tiles and wooden furnishings and fixtures. Unimposing and comfortable is the vibe you get from the interiors, a probable foreshadowing of the dishes to come.
Starters and Pastas
We start with a warming bowl of Salmon and Mussel Chowder. Their Chupe de Pescado is a creamy serving of seafood goodness. Made with potatoes for thickness, the broth has a slight kick and peppery bitterness from the Aji Amarillo which are Peruvian Yellow Chili peppers. As its name suggests, the soup’s meat comes from generous chunks of salmon and mussels that complement the creaminess of the broth. For crunch, corn and edamame fill this role as well as adding some veg to the dish.
For those looking to try something on the exotic side, the beef heart skewers from their anticucho menu is a must-try. Chewy yet tender, these are best eaten immediately when served. The meat gets tougher after it cools down. There’s a slight gamey taste but not that overbearing to the tongue. With the heart chunks, the dish comes with Chimichurri and Aji Anticucho sauce (made from the Aji Amarillo) for an extra layer of flavor with the meat.
For their pastas, Cocina Peruvia gets playful by mixing flavor palates that take Peruvian flavors and blend it with Filipino staples. As is the case with their Linguine con Carbonara, you take the accustomed flavor of local carbonara and infuse a bit of Peru into it. The thick garlic-rich béchamel gets an extra layer of flavor from Aji Amarillo (this pepper will be a recurring ingredient in a lot of their dishes). Topped with shrimps, mussels, and squid for a deeply infused sea flavor in the sauce.
The Chorizo con Pasta, on the other hand, has a rich Pomodoro sauce with many flavored oils that build up the dish’s flavor. Chorizo makes up the main meat of the dish, as well as giving its savory oil to the sauce. With black olives and parmesan cheese to round out the sauce’s flavors, an added touch that elevates this dish is the drizzle of cilantro oil the gives a herbal resonance throughout the pasta.
On to the main event, we were already told beforehand that their Adobo Peruvia is a crowd favorite so I expected a strong savory flavor profile seeing the word “adobo’ in the name. Yet, in tasting it, I got what I expected and beyond. Imagine chashu pork but with more juiciness and a decadant cream sauce on top. Though my guess with the savoriness is on point, the other flavors in the dish are what surprised me. The cream sauce provided a mellow coating for the pork that doesn’t weigh down the dish. A generous topping of Salsa Creole (tomatoes and onions) provides a fresh crunch to the pork and finishes the dish’s flavor with a sharp change in texture.
To pair with pork, the Chaufa Kale (Kale Fried Rice) is a flavorful fried side with hints of savory bitterness from the kale and Rocoto peppers. It also comes with its own meaty bite from squid and shrimps tossed in.
The Gambas Saltado (Shrimp Saltado) is the seafood main to contrast the earthy meatiness of the pork. Spicy and pungent, the flavorful oil of the dish is best drizzled with the rice. The plump shrimps go well with the crunch of the Aji Panca (Peruvian Red Peppers) and both carry the oil in every bite.
For dessert, we got a double serving with their Chocolate Pudding and Maize Panna Cotta. The former is a sweet dark treat, getting its sweetness from maraschino cherries and lightened with a dollop of whipped cream. The pudding is made from dark chocolate that provides a velvety richness that is finished with the fresh herb-iness of mint leaves. The latter dessert is a unique panna cotta, being made from corn – giving its bright yellow hue. It’s a sweet and sour combo with the honey corn flakes providing crunch and dried berries to highlight the fruity taste of the panna cotta.
In the end, Cocina Peruvia provides a different flavor experience for those looking for a new cuisine to try, as well as providing familiar dishes blended with foreign flavors to create a unique profile that excites but never intimidates. In its grand mission to give Filipinos a taste of Peru, Cocina Peruvia satisfies with its unfamiliar ingredients and spices presented in a flavorful feast that locals can indulge in.
Cocina Peruvia is located on the Fifth Floor, The Podium, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City and Level 2, Ayala Malls Vertis North, Bagong Pag-Asa, Quezon City. For reservations, contact (0917) 635-1862 for Podium branch and (0917) 631-5797 for QC branch.