Peruvian purview

Ceviche mixto
Photo: Shannon Cornman

Are Peruvian people crazy-fat?

I know, I know, it’s unfair to stereotype an entire nation of people, but as a crazy-fat guy, I feel compelled to ask. See, every Peruvian restaurant I go to keeps serving me this delicious food, and I think, “Oh, I’ll just eat a little bit,” and then everything goes black and suddenly, I’m leaning back in my chair and my face is covered in chicken grease and lime juice.

By the way, you should look into eating at La Brasa Peruvian Kitchen, 1310 NW 25th St. Despite
living in the hollowed-out bones of a night club, La Brasa is a casually
swanky joint with some serious food on its menu.

True confession: I like fish sticks.

But the Gorton’s fisherman can stay in the freezer section forever because the seafood fry at La Brasa has won my heart. Jalea mixta ($11)
is a smattering of calamari, fish and shrimp dressed in seasoned panko
and fried to perfection. It’s an appetizer big enough to share at a
table for four or for me to shame-eat quickly so the waiter doesn’t
judge me.

If you’re in
the mood for a salad, then why not eat some steak? The shaking beef
salad is a baby spinach salad covered in marinated, seasoned, expertly
seared pieces of tenderloin. At $10, this is kind of a crazy bargain. I
imagine cows, knowing their time is near, begin to slowly amble south,
hoping they get cooked by someone from Peru.

On the other end of the spectrum is the ceviche mixto ($11), which takes a melange of seafood (including octopus!) and soaks it in lime juice
and spices, mixes in some avocado and chilis and forms a cylinder of
oceanic delights. The Peruvian corn? Eh, I could do without. But the
fried corn nut things? I could take a jar to-go and they wouldn’t make
it home.

If you’re in the mood for a salad, then why not eat some steak?

Next time I go, I’m taking someone special and getting the Leche de Tigre ($11) — which is described only as “aphrodisiac ceviche sauce.” That’s what she said, my friends.

It’s a testament to the quality of the menu that the Lomo de Puerca a La Brasa ($10)
didn’t wow me. Perhaps it was because I didn’t know exactly how done
the pork tenderloin was supposed to be or that the flavor didn’t pop as
much as the others, but I was underwhelmed.

Of course, who wouldn’t be underwhelmed when there’s Pollo a La Brasa on
the menu. Peruvian roast chicken is so good, so juicy and flavorful and
rich, I’m not totally sure why there isn’t just a guy on the street
selling it and raking in the bucks.

The Pollo a La Brasa sandwich ($10) is kind of like a bahn mi. With
sriracha mayo and jalapeños and salsa, it’s a little messy. And,
frankly, the flavor of the chicken gets lost. A better bet is just the
chicken on its own. A quarter bird and a side will run $8. A half with
two sides is $12. A whole with two sides is $20, and yes, I’ll take
three birds, please. Now leave me. Leave me to my chickens.

Brasa has everything going for it with great food, a nice central
location and reasonable prices. If it can nail down the service, this
restaurant will be a force with which to reckon.

Greg Elwell

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