So many global influences exist in London’s restaurant scene that most can claim to be represented in some shape or form. But every now and then, one cuisine lights up menus like wildfire.
If we told you a mere five years ago that a Peruvian craze was just around the corner; that soon you’d be feasting on tuna ceviches and drinking pisco sours, you might have been a little suspicious. Most people couldn’t even name a Peruvian dish, let alone say they’d eaten one.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s conceivable that seeing guinea pig on London restaurant menu wouldn’t even kick up much of a fuss. Peruvian food has become so popular that there are now at least six Peruvian brands in Central London alone, including a Peruvian-Japanese cross over!
Why Londoners love Peruvian food
In case you haven’t had the chance to try London’s Peruvian food since the trend took off in 2012, let us fill you in.
Peru has an incredibly diverse natural landscape. In terms of diet, fish features prominently in the form of ceviche – raw fish marinated in acidic juices and full of fresh flavour.
It also has an incredibly diverse history, with people coming from Asia, North America, Europe and Africa, all bringing their favourite recipes with them and trying to recreate them with Peru’s native ingredients.
All of the above means that Peruvian food is a natural fusion cuisine, and from Korrito’s Korean burritos to Shackfuyu’s Asian-style American food, there’s nothing London loves more than an exciting fusion menu.
Another thing that has helped Peru’s cuisine flourish in London is that it’s native, traditional ingredients happen to be insanely popular at the moment.
It might be no coincidence than the quinoa craze started around the same time as Peruvian food arrived in London. This food bloggers’ favourite is native to Peru and used in many traditional dished as the staple carb.
Exotic tubers and root vegetables are also popular in Peruvian cooking. London was well prepared for more tubers on their menus after the success of the sweet potato fries now ubiquitous at every burger joint, and plantain, a staple of London’s long established West African and Caribbean dining culture. Peru’s Yacón found good company among these London favourites, and also has a great markup on restaurateur menus as an exotic but cheap vegetable.
The pioneering Peruvian
One man more than any other deserves the credit for this explosion of South American flavour.
Martin Morales is the creative force behind 2012’s pioneering launch of Ceviche Soho in the prestigious Frith Street. He then launched a sister Peruvian restaurant, the Michelin-Guide listed Andina, in late 2013. Then broke ground with Ceviche Old St restaurant and art gallery which won the Best Venue in the UK Award earlier this year.
Introducing Casita Andina
Now, he is opening his fourth with Casita Andina, a restaurant that aims to bring the Andes to Soho with light, quick and affordable lunches and exquisite dinner dishes and cocktails – all influenced by his Andina grandmother and his travels in the Andes.
The Soho-based site was acquired by Restaurant Property’s Guy Marks.
According to Morales, “Londoners love Peruvian food’s variety of flavours, stories and traditions, unique ingredients and healthy qualities. But we are just scratching the surface. Our restaurants have pioneered the Peruvian food revolution and every time we create a unique, different and new idea. Gastronomically, Peru is as vast a cuisine as French or Japanese so I’m delighted that Casita Andina will present something fresh to the restaurants scene.”
Morales travelled to Peru with his team to research the concept for this new restaurant. The Casita will be based on Peru’s Picanterias – family-run restaurant cottages in the Andes that serve family, friends and all who pass by.
As a Peruvian cottage (albeit one in the heart of Soho), Casita Andina’s guests can expect a cosy, friendly, authentic place to eat, with fabrics sourced and produced in the Andes.
“We want to celebrate its food but also the textile legacy of the Andes of Peru,” explains Morales. “So through our dishes, art and design this will be a key theme running through Casita Andina”
The menu is influenced by dishes found in typical picanterias but with London creativity: lamb loin in coriander and beer sauce, rocoto chilli with skate stuffing and a special Peruvian chocolate desert called choco sauco.
Casita Andina will open on Great Windmill Street, Soho, on Peruvian Independence Day, July 28th.< Back