Wednesday, May 02, 2007

El Templo del Inka In Santiago De Chile

Something I like about this blogging life is meeting other people who share similar interests.

I recently came across a food blog which reviewed a Peruvian restaurant in Santiago de Chile called El Templo del Inka.

This excellent food blog, Nico's Food Adventures, belongs to a self-described specialist 'in food politics with an appetite that's way too big,' who splits his time between his native Chile and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Very graciously, Nico has allowed me post his photos at Peru Food.

In the past few years, due both to the influx of Peruvian immigrants as well as the general boom of Peruvian cuisine, there has been an increase in the number of Peruvian restaurants in the Chilean capital.

When I visited Santiago about three years ago (before I began this Peruvian food blogging adventure) I came away with the impression there were two types of Peruvian restaurants in the city: small mom-and-pop type places catering mostly to Peruvians craving home-style Peruvian food, and more upscale places for those eager to sample fine Peruvian fare.

Chicharrón de mariscos, deep fried seafood served on a bed of Romaine lettuce and accompanied by a purple onion garnish and various sauces.
Photo: Nico's Food Adventures

The opening of Gastón Acurio's Astrid & Gaston Restaurant in Santiago a few years back may have started a trend in the upscale Peruvian restaurant category, and El Templo del Inka follows in that vein.

El Templo del Inka bills itself as a novoandina restaurant, which uses traditional products in more stylized presentations to create a nouvelle Andean cuisine.

Grilled steak served with a two-mustard sauce, sharp and sweet,and potato mille-feuille.
Photo: Nico's Food Adventures

César Fredes, writing in the Santiago daily La Nación, published a review of El Templo del Inka, and described it as "the new reference point for Peruvian cuisine" in Santiago. Located in the posh Providencia commune, or district, of Santiago, El Templo del Inka is headed by Raúl Landeo who had been head chef at another long-standing Peruvian restaurant in the city, Mare Nostrum.

The restaurant occupies a chalet-style home and is elegant without being pretentious. Fredes writes the cuisine is 'very fine, delicate, and sophisticated.' The owners seek to establish themselves as a niche restaurant, and hope to occupy a place between the more popular and less expensive Peruvian restaurants and the crown jewel of Peruvian food in Chile, Astrid & Gastón.

Among the dishes Fredes recommends: tuna tartare, which he calls, 'poetry in flavor and beauty'; oysters on the half-shell served with huancaína sauce; grilled octopus served over carapulcra; the classic duck and rice dish, arroz con pato; and, lenguado, flounder covered in a shellfish sauce and served over a yuca rösti.

For dessert, Fredes wrote 'two truly lifted our spirits and delighted our taste buds: the very traditional banana buñuelos, and the carrot tarte'.

Corvina with carapulcra, the firm white-flesh fish is served over a potato carapulcra risotto, and bathed in a shrimp and ají panca sauce.
Photo: Nico's Food Adventures

Carlos Reyes, writing in another Santiago daily, La Tercera, also gives El Templo del Inka a very good review. He notes the restaurant presents 'contemporary Peruvian cuisine similar to what one may sample in Lima restaurants. Why? Because it offers a mixture of flavors and preparation typical of Peruvian cooking, yet conceived with a much more personal vision.'

Reyes also recommends the octopus served with carapulcra; the sashimi-like tuna tiradito; the hearty king crab chupe, a soup dish; and, the grilled corvina fish. For dessert, he recommends one of the house specialities, an impressive crêpe suzette, which he describes as having 'visually clear and elegant lines'.

I know where I am going to eat the next time I am in Santiago and craving Peruvian food!

Once again, thanks to Nico's Food Adventures for the tip and the photos. You should definitely visit Nico's blog.

Mil gracias, Nico.

El Templo del Inka
Antonio Bellet 280, Providencia
Santiago de Chile
Open Monday to Friday, 1:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday 8 p.m. to midnight
235-5119, 236-6062
Website: El Templo del Inka

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