Our friends Ana and Rale told us about a new(ish) Peruvian restaurant in town (and very close from where we live) called Mancora. I recruited the family for an emergency dinner to try it out.
Because there’s no sign outside, Mancora is easy to miss unless you know the street number. The place is small and the decor minimalist and tasteful. The typical music on the background was, thankfully, not the kind that irritates me. I liked the fonts used in the menu, although a laminated one could be a better option to keep it neat. Speaking about the menu, the very friendly owner asked me very politely why I was taking photos of it. It’s the first time I’ve been asked with respect and not interrogated or assaulted. I told him about the blog, and he was cool with it. Bonus points for that.
The restaurant is BYO, we brought both a red and a white and decided based on our food choices. They do make pisco sours and even though we didn’t try them, I would recommend getting that, based on the looks of the pisco sour our friend Victor was having. He was there that night, and has eaten there quite a few times.
On to the food. Most of the dishes we ordered came from the ocean, since the name of the restaurant suggests seafood is their speciality (Máncora is the name of the most famous beach in the North of Perú). We started with a really good ceviche clásico, Diced blue yee fish marinated in key lemon juice with a blend of garlic, cilantro, Spanish onion & crushed white pepper, served with caramelised sweet potato, corn & cancha. It was on the tangy side, exactly the way I like it, and it was polished in a few minutes.
Ceviche clásico ($22)
Our second shared entrée was the Tiradito d’ ají amarillo & crujiente d’ pulpo, sliced thin pieces of fresh blue eye fish marinated with lemon, sea salt, crushed white pepper, olive oil & Peruvian ají amarillo, served with sweet corn & crisped octopus. We asked if the octopus was battered or crumbed because we don’t eat gluten and were assured there was nothing on it. However, when it came to the table it was clear the pieces of octopus has something on them. We asked again and were told it was just the bits and pieces of seafood that stuck to the octopus. To me it was clearly battered (look at the pic and judge for yourself), but I thought maybe they used potato or cornstarch instead of wheat flour. Gladys was brave enough and took a bite. I tried to peel the batter as best as I could from my piece, but the flavour was still there: it tasted like bread. Big strike for the restaurant. I had some stomach cramps during the rest of the meal and a totally stuffed respiratory system the next morning. Even without considering the gluten episode, the tiradito was our least favourite dish of the night. Personally, I was expecting more delicate pieces and a creamier sauce.
Tiradito d’ ají amarillo & crujiente d’ pulpo ($25)
The next dish was a must because it’s Alvaro’s favourite Peruvian dish. I like it a lot too, but don’t eat it often (in fact I can’t remember the last time I had it) because it has rice and beer. Still, we decided that our exception for the night would be Arroz d’ pato, duck maryland & steamed rice, blended with coriander, capsicum & black beer, served with small portion of salsa criolla. We were glad Alvaro insisted so much in ordering it: it was simply amazing. The seasoning was perfect, and transported me back home.
Arroz d’ pato ($25)
Our final shared dish was Pescado criollo, fish of the day fried with garlic, crushed black pepper & sea salt, served with cassava, steamed rice & Peruvian salsa criolla. It’s a very simple everyday type of dish but very tasty, and again, with flavours that reminded us of home.
Pescado criollo ($27)
There are several other dishes that we’d like to try (and that our friend Victor has endorsed, like the ceviche mixto), so I think we’ll be back soon.
Mancora Peruvian Cuisine
107 Addison Rd
Marrickville NSW 2208
(02) 8065 6337
Mancora on Facebook