Location: 9575 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035. Tel: 310 277 0133
Date: September 27, 2011
Cuisine: Modern Peruvian
Rating: Really interesting flavors
My parents were in town and I wanted to take them back to Picca, which I had recently tried. Peruvian food is on fire right now in LA, and for good reason.
The Pico Blvd frontage is hard to miss.
Picca’s Peruvian cuisine has enough citrus and Asian notes that it goes best with a lighter fruiter red like this lovely Burgundy (from my cellars as usual).
The bar was hoping when we arrived and at least ten people were waiting for tables, but they honored our reservation and seated us immediately (love to see that).
The interesting handmade cocktail menu.
“Rhubarb Sidecar.” Cognac, pisco, fresh lemon juice, rhubarb gastrique, shake violentyly (and they mean it), garnished with spiced sugar.”
Today’s menu. There are so many dishes that I took to underlining the ones we wanted. Saved on recitation to the waitress.
“papa rellena. stuffed potato, slow cooked beef, boiled egg, rocoto aioli.” Tasted like potato and chilli (known in Texas as a super-spud).
“empanada trio. beef, chicken, eggplant, salad.” I tried the chicken one, it was good. Not too heavy (considering).
“jalea mixta. crispy mixed seafood, tartare sauce.” Some really good fried seafood. The tartare sauce was fantastic too.
Parker 93 points, “The 2008 Vico made from 100% Mencia with 30% whole clusters and aged for 9 months in seasoned French oak. Opaque purple-colored, it offers up a slightly reticent bouquet of damp earth, mineral, incense, black cherry, and black raspberry. Dense and loaded on the palate, the flavors are already complex and mouth-filling. Impeccably balanced and with a 45-second finish, it has the stuffing to blossom for another 2-3 years but can be approached now. It is a great value.”
“ceviche criollo. seabass, rocoto leche de tigre, choclo, sweet potato.” The leche de tigre (vinegary lime sauce) makes all these cerviche‘s taste fairly similar, but this one had big soft chunks of seabass.
“ceviche crocante. halibut, leche de tigre, crispy calamari.” And this followup was rendered considerably different by the addition of crunchy calamari.
One of the menu’s many sections is “terceras – antichuchos” which are mostly grilled skewers, sort of Peruvian yakatori.
“tomatoes. burrata, black mint pesto.”
“beef filet. sea urchin butter, garlic chip.” Good stuff, with just a hint of the classic Uni flavor.
“scallops. aji amarillo aioli, wasabi peas.” Lightly cooked, very nice.
“black cod. miso anticucho, crispy sweet potato.”
Then we have a round of “causa sushi,” with yellow Peruvian potato replacing the rice. In general, as I’ve mentioned before rice is more successful, but these are still tasty.
This is the “unagi. avocado, cucumber, eel sauce” and it’s pretty much your eel sushi. Of all these causas this was my favorite as the polenta is heavier and stronger flavored than rice and the eel held up to it best.
“spicy yellow tail. spicy mayo, green onions, wasabi tobiko.”
“smoked salmon. hijiki, shallots, aji amarillo yogurt.”
“shrimp. pickled cucumbers, yuzu kosho guacamole.”
“albacore. garlic chip, ceviche sauce.” My second favorite of this set.
“scallops. mentaiko.” Certainly tasty, but it would have been better with rice.
“snow crab. cucumber, avocado, huancaina sauce.”
“seabass tiradito. thin slice sea bass, soy sauce, lemon dressing, sweet potato puree.” Very nice. Bright fish, even further brightened by the bold flavors.
Our server was very perky and friendly. Although she got caught up talking to lots of other guests and took a while with the check :-).
“chicharron de costillas. crispy pork ribs crostini, sweet potato puree, feta cheese sauce, salsa criolla.” This however was pretty spectacular, one of the best pork sandwiches I’ve tried.
“arroz chaufa de mariscos. mixed seafood, peruvian fried rice, pickled radish.” This was a nice version of paella. Brighter and more citrusy (by far) than it’s Spanish cousin. The ingredients were very fresh.
“sudado de lenguado. halibut stew, peruvian corn beer sauce, yuyo.” This really added some flavor to the nicely cooked fish.
“pollo saltado. chicken, onion, tomato, ginger, potato fritters.” This was also a tasty chicken. Like a south american stir-fry. With fries!
“chanfainita. braised oxtail, mote and potato stew.” This was our least favorite dish of the evening. There was a lot of bone on the tail, and a lot of fat. Not that it tasted bad or anything, but I think we were done for.
I love even street cart churros but these were pretty supreme. The churros were stuffed with some kind of dulce de leche custard. It kept squirting out but was intensely good. The carob sauce was surprisingly amazing. I remember carob from the 1970s as the horrible chocolate bars that weren’t. This could have been caramel.
“Lemon tart.” This was a pretty amazing dessert. Light and airy, almost foamy, the intense lemoness paired nicely with the sweet pineapple stuff on the side.
Picca was just as good the second time. We rounded out the menu and ordered mostly new stuff. As long as you are of the “bland is banned” school like I am, there really isn’t anything not to like about their solid implementation of this bright and flavorful cuisine.
For my previous review of Picca, click here.