Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chicago Peruvian

Carol is a Korean American blogger married to a Peruvian and living in Chicago. Her blog, bokumbop, is named after a popular Korean fried rice dish. I know this because I live near Los Angeles' Koreatown, and I've had many an opportunity to sample authentic Korean food. Koreans and Peruvians, we both love our food.

Recently, we've been exchanging e-mails about food and culture. I thought I'd post some of her thoughts, since they echo mine so well.

Additionally, she tells us about the Peruvian restaurant scene in Chi-Town.

Here's Carol's perspective:

There are a lot of surprising synergies between Korean and Peruvian food and, most of time, if you like one, you'll like the other. I believe that food is such an important form of expression in both cultures, if you don't "get it," or think it's weird, you probably will have a hard time fitting in, even more than not speaking the language. In a way, rejecting the food is kind of like ... rejecting the whole culture, the people, the way of life.

Okay, here is the scoop on two Peruvian restaurants in Chicago--

Rinconcito Sudamericano is the restaurant that everybody knows here.

It's been here the longest (a lot of Peruvian restaurants pop up, but then go out of business for one reason or another). Obviously, Chicago suffers from not having an ocean nearby, but you can still get a good sudado or arroz con mariscos here ...

I usually get the ají de gallina, and I see a lot of homesick Peruvians ordering tallarín, or arroz con pato, or bistec and papa a la diabla. They also do a beautiful stuffed shrimp appetizer and chicken with a peanut sauce, yum.

Here's part of review by Patrick Corcoran at Centerstage Chicago.

"If this Peruvian eatery is an accurate reflection on the rest of the nation, I am packing my bags for Lima pronto. This Bucktown eatery is formal, but not too fancy. The decorative placemats and matching chairs, the tie-wearing staff and immaculate table setting suggest a propriety belied by the throng of young children roughhousing among the servers.

The menu's design may be simple, but page upon page of enticing recipes make the decision of what to order exceedingly complex."

Photos: AllyUnion at Wikipedia.

My husband and I also went to Taste of Peru a lot when we were city dwellers. Again, really good, homestyle cooking. And, a really nice owner who used to be a police officer, and does a lot for the Rogers Park community where the restaurant is located. It's BYOB, which I really like. You'll see a lot of groups of older Peruvians chilling out, having some wine, waiting for their meals - from what I remember service is extreeeeeeemely slooooooooowwwww, but as long as you know this going in, and just relax and enjoy the conversation and music, it's all good.

It's funny to watch people (non-Peruvian) who have never been there before get all bent out of shape, or try to order things with substitutions and what-not - you just gotta' go with the flow.

There is a Thai restaurant in Wrigleyville that is only open late-night, and the sign on the wall says - "This Is Not Burger King - You Will Not Have It Your Way".

I think some things, like Peruvian food, are best as is.

So, if you ever find yourself in Chicago, you will not starve! I found a new restaurant that opened up in the 'burbs, that I hope to try out one of these days, but it's hard to dine out with a 10-month old!

Kamsahamnida Carol!

Rinconcito Sudamericano
1954 W. Armitage Avenue, Chicago
Phone: (773) 489-3126

A Taste of Peru
6545 N Clark Street, Chicago
Phone: (773) 381-4540
Website: Taste of Peru

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

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


Carol said...

Thanks Alejandro! I raise my glass of Inka Cola to you. Hopefully I'll be able to do a part two, once lil' T outgrows the two naps a day thing.

::Alejandro:: said...

Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Hope you try Ay Ay Picante. They have some wonderful Ceviche.