Peru boasts the largest population of Chinese people of any Latin American country and the Asian influence can be found in one of Peru's most ubiquitous dishes, Lomo Saltado - a stir fried combination of sirloin steak, french fries, onions and tomatoes in a soy-based sauce. My friend Judith, a Peruvian national, after taking me to my first Peruvian restaurant declared that I had to order Lomo Saltado to experience real Peruvian food, because according to her, it was what every Peruvian person ate. And my first experience was truly delicious - who would have ever thought to stir fry steak and fries together? In soy sauce? Hmm, must have been an industrious housewife/mother trying to use leftovers from the previous night's dinner. In any case, it's quite delicious.
My limited experience with Latin American cuisine in Tokyo has been fairly disappointing in terms of authenticity - generally "Japanified," meaning that strong flavors or greasiness get stripped out to produce Japanese-palate friendly clean, bland food. But Miraflores in Daikanyama delivered in authenticity and flavor. First off, the decor is the requisite kitschy hole-in-the-wall, complete with loud Spanish-language music playing in the background. The cooks in the kitchen are Latin American, not Japanese. The dipping sauces range from mildly hot, medium hot to very hot, and actually delivers in real heat. And the food is delicious, packed with authentic Peruvian flavors (true, I'm not a connoisseur of Peruvian food, but to my credit, I have traveled and eaten in Peru, and mi madre used to own a Peruvian restaurant with my ex-stepfather). In fact, I'm already thinking about when I can go back to have some arroz con mariscos drenched in their yellow spicy sauce.
Mussels topped with a refreshing salsa of peas, corns, tomatoes and red onions
Stuffed squid in a delicious creamy vegetable sauce
Arroz con pollo in green sauce
Arroz con mariscos in red sauce
Food rating: **** and a half (absolutely delicious!)
Bang for buck rating: 5 (especially good for groups!)
Location: Daikanyama, Tokyo, between Ebisu and Daikanyama stations
Average price for meal for two (but best visited with large groups in order to try more dishes): 5000 yen (~$55)