Monday, February 13, 2006

The Crab Lover's Place: Mi Perú in Barranco

Original: Raúl Mendoza, La República 7/23/05.

This is an informal, unofficial translation of an article by Raúl Mendoza, writing in the Lima daily, La República, about a Barranco institution, Mi Perú.

It might be hard to find a restaurant serving a better crab than Mi Perú in Barranco.

By Raúl Mendoza, La República, 7/23/05

While not a glamorous restaurant, it exudes the warmth of a friendly
huarique, as Peruvians call those hole-in-the-walls whose appearance belies the quality and flavor to be encountered. It offers a well-served lunch, and above above all, a spectacular specialty: concentrado de cangrejo, crab cooked in a tomato-based sauce.

The kitchen at Mi Perú is unsurpassed at this dish. To confirm this fact, doubters simply need to head towards Plaza Butters in Barranco, and guided by a firm step and keen sense of smell, enter the restaurant, and request the specialty of the house.

This restaurant and its
sazón, or unique seasoning and flavor, is a temple of seafood cuisine visited by newbies on discovery, seekers of hidden treasures, loyal long-term followers, wise travelers, and gourmets who know what they're talking about when they talk about food.

concentrado de cangrejo
exceeds all expectations.

The life of the party at this modest, traditional, and thirty-plus year old Barranco restaurant is Aida Cerreños Vásquez, a native of Trujillo who has been living in Lima so long she's forgotten what year she arrived.

The formula for her
's success, she says, is to make it using small crabs typical of the North of Peru, and then boiling them just the right amount of time in a sauce made with tomatoes and secret seasonings. When the crab turns pink, all that's left to do is start tasting. Then, see if you can stop.

"You smash the shell a little so it cracks and the meat inside can cook. Ten minutes boiling in the sauce, with just a little water, and the
is done. It's simple but it's become our signature dish," says doña Aida.

She is absolutely correct. Her restaurant has served politicians, artists, and five-star chefs. Everyone leaves well-fed and satisfied.

Mi Perú is located on a corner of Plaza Butters. Our hosts are Jimmy and Roy, doña Aida's sons. The restaurant was founded 33 years ago by their deceased father, Raúl Taype Miranda. They have been at the same location the entire time, but will soon undergo an expansion. They plan on keeping the same menu, although they may add some new dishes.

The restaurant opened serving seafood, and crab wasn't even added to the menu until 1977. Now, "we may be the only restaurant in Lima that offers it," says Jimmy.

We taste the
concentrado de cangrejo
and can attest that our hosts didn't exaggerate when they recommended the dish. We end up leaving only scraps of claws and shell on our plate. The stock is good enough to raise the spirits of even the most morose.

Daily specials are listed on a blackboard in chalk, just like years ago. One of our fellow diners tells us, "Anyone who tastes this restaurant's sazón, becomes a loyal customer for years."

Also notable are the cebiches, made from lenguado, cojinova, or mixed, and a tortilla de conchas con langostino, clams, mussels, and langostinos in a Spanish-style egg dish.

Just remember, your first visit to Mi Perú may be the beginning of a long relationship with this Barranco seafood classic.

Mi Perú
Lima 861, corner Plaza Butters, Barranco
Monday to Sunday,
Lunch only, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Arrive between 12 or 1 p.m. otherwise you risk not getting a table.
Closing: when the food runs out.
Cash only.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana

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