Pachamama means “Mother Earth” in Quechua and Aymara, two of the main languages spoken by the aboriginal people of my country. Ancient Peruvian cultures, like many others in the world, treated the land (the world, the universe) with care and respect because they knew that life depended on it.
Danny describes his new adventure like Modern Australian cuisine with Peruvian and Japanese influences (his blood, like mine, has both). I’d dare to say that it’s mainly Peruvian, but Latin American could be a better classification. Which is not a bad thing, specially in the bar; Peruvian pisco is awesome but wine is terrible. Luckily, they have good reds and wines from elsewhere.
We didn’t even look at the cocktails board and ordered pisco sours to start. Less thick and sweet (win!) than usual, tangy and refreshing. A mysterious red/pink substance stained the froth instead of the traditional dash of bitters.
Pisco sour ($16)
For the rest of the meal, we chose the 2010 Misterio Malbec from Argentina that was not bad at all.
2010 Misterio Malbec ($9 a glass)
The top section of the menu contains five kinds of cebiche (correctly spelled!): classic, a la piedra (hot, with seafood), Nisei, Jalisco (Mexican-style), and tiradito. We wanted one of each but thought that two would be a good number to be able to try more dishes. The chosen ones were the classic: snapper, lime, green chili, coriander, and sweet potato chips, and the Nisei (meaning children of Japanese parents born overseas): grilled octopus, yuzu dressing & yaki onigiri.
The classic cebiche was excellent: the fish had been cut tiradito/sashimi style, the lime was very sour (the way I like it), and the chips provided sweetness and crunch. Minor bad news for heat lovers and/or big eaters: the chili wasn’t noticeable (a saucer with rocoto would be a nice-to-have feature) and the portion was very small.
Cebiche classic ($15)
The Nisei cebiche was very different to all other Japanese-influenced cebiches/tiraditos I’ve had, in a good way. It was the most tender octopus I’ve ever had. The dressing, while subtle, had a chili kick to it, and this version of yaki onigiri (with potato starch, as we were told by the waitress) rounded off the dish texture-wise. I enjoyed this cebiche as much as the other.
Cebiche Nisei ($15)
The other two dishes arrived a bit too early but didn’t suffer too much from sitting at room temperature. First was the seared wagyu rump, roasted okra & anticucho sauce, a Peruvian interpretation of the classic beef tataki that worked very well. Gladys declared this her favourite dish.
Seared wagyu rump, roasted okra & anticucho sauce ($16)
Next came the Chilean sea bass, roasted scallops, yucca & panca sauce (ají panca is a dried red Peruvian chili that is the base of many traditional dishes). The fish and scallops were perfectly cooked, the sauce was delicious and moreish. It was my favourite dish of the night.
Chilean sea bass, roasted scallops, yucca & panca sauce ($27)
Four dishes later we were still hungry (and we thought we had ordered too much!). We opted for the salchipapas: smoked frankfurter, roasted potatoes & ají amarillo mayonnaise, a more refined rendition of the classic fast food dish (fried sliced frankfurter and chips). Good sausage and potatoes, great sauce.
We didn’t sample the whole spectrum of dishes but found the ones we chose were consistent in quality. The downside? Portions are smaller than prices (call it “gourmet” food, if you like), specially for a full-time student like me.
200 Goulburn Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9261 8799