Museo del Prado, Madrid
Among the first e-mails I received after starting this blog was one asking me about Pescados Capitales in Miraflores. The writer had heard it was one of the best seafood restaurants in Peru. In the past year since I've been working on Peru Food, I've been sent other questions about this restaurant and I've learned much about it despite the fact I have yet to eat there personally.
First, Pescados Capitales is a play on words. In Spanish, pecados capitales refers to the seven deadly sins. Pescados, of course, means fish.
Second, the restaurant doesn't only serve innovative seafood dishes, it accompanies them with a healthy dose of vice and virtue, as well as a good sense of political humor.
Dishes at Pescados Capitales are named for either one of the seven deadly sins or the seven heavenly virtues, or after key players in the Peruvian political dramas of the moment. Peruvians are known for their deft sense of humor and this restaurant capitalizes on that.
Back in January, María Elena Cornejo wrote the following review for CARETAS magazine, subsequently posted on her blog, Mucho Gusto Perú.
Pescados Capitales: The Temptation of the Tine
by María Elena Cornejo
As you walk into Pescados Capitales, a sign welcomes you with this saying: "There are seven heavenly virtues and sevens deadly sins, (in Peru) cats have seven (not nine) lives, and there are seven days in the week. That way, you have seven days in which to sin."
Temptation begins as you begin reading the weekly menu. The names of their weekly specials are related to current political events in Peru and depend on whatever creatures seem to be prevalent that week in the churning Peruvian political seas.
Photo: María Elena Cornejo
In this devilish gastronomic name game there are some loyalties to be kept despite the political storms. These dishes include the classic sins, the ones committed with religious regularity, as well as the cardinal virtues: Temperance is a stupendous tuna tiradito, while Gluttony is a majestic chita served on a bed of scalloped potatoes.
Other dishes worth mentioning include Pride, a saffron calamari risotto; Envy, a lenguado in a shellfish sauce; and, Impatience, grilled tuna served with a chickpea salad.
If you don't have a reservation, you wait at one of eight small tables while sampling salty cancha and conchitas al bloody mary, courtesy of the house. The bar area needs to be urgently expanded.
Writer Guillermo Giacosa is one of the most perseverent sinners. Weekly, he alternates between Gluttony and Infidelity (swordfish with shrimp risotto), among the stars of the menu.
"This kitchen continues to surprise me," he says, "It is innovative, fun, and has great atmosphere. The servers are always alert to the diners' needs, even if its not their table. You just raise your hand and instantly, someone is by your side to take care of you. I really appreciate the service there. I love the food but the service is impeccable."
Víctor Chang Say, his sister Zue and his brother-in-law Nguyen are the owners, hosts, and managers of the restaurant.
MEC: What is Pescados Capitales greatest virtue?
PC: Our honesty. If we say we're serving lenguado, then we give you lenguado. We don't try to camouflage fish by soaking it in milk or using other culinary tricks.
MEC: Why seafood?
PC: Because fish can be prepared so many different and heavenly combinations.
MEC: What is your current goal?
PC: To expand the consumption of other types of seafood, like anchovies, and fresh-water fish like trout, doncella, and dorada.
MEC: When did you open your first restaurant?
PC: Back in 1997 in Madrid with a pollos a la brasa, roast chicken restaurant. We were the first ones to use charcoal to cook the chicken.
Avenida La Mar 1337, Miraflores
Price per dish: Between 30 and 50 soles
Corkage: 20 soles for wine, 30 soles for spirits.
TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana