Peru’s multicultural cuisine is diverse and distinct. The country is a mountainous melting pot, a confluence of indigenous Andean, Spanish, Italian, and Asian flavors. Nowhere do those international influences manifest themselves more clearly than in Peru’s passion for pasta.
At Delicias Peruanas in Lake Forest, it begins with the hiss of a hot pan, the clinking of glass bottles, and a brief flash of fire. Soon, a huge helping of tallarin saltado de mariscos appears. It’s the Peruvian iteration of lo mein, a nest of soy-slicked noodles concealing a huge haul of shrimp, scallops, squid, and mussels. Add a dab of the ubiquitous Peruvian aji sauce (the spicy, verdant condiment that’s somewhere between a salsa and a pesto) and the dish takes on new life—it’s bright and fiery and instantly unique.
Peru Peru Grill is all dim, moody lighting, with sleek, modern lines. The restaurant, stashed in the back of a strip mall behind a Subway, recalls what you might imagine to be a fetching Lima club. In reality, it’s one of the best Peruvian joints in Orange County. Take the fantastic tallarin verde con milanesa de carne, a heap of spaghetti enrobed in a basil and spinach pesto and accompanied by a small potato split in half and fried. On top is a flattened, fried steak that could make a meat-eater out of just about anyone.
Aji Limon announces its Asian influence more boldly than most other Peruvian restaurants in Southern California. Adorning every menu item descended from Chinese and Japanese traditions—Peruvian fried rice, wonton soup, teriyaki-style chicken—is a little icon indicating its country of origin. Try the yakiudon nikkei—thick, squiggly udon noodles stir-fried with strips of steak and vegetables in a curious Japanese-Peruvian hybrid. It’s a dish as emblematic of Peru’s noodle-crazed diaspora as it is of Orange County’s own cross-cultural exchange.
FEEDING A CROWD? At Delicias Peruanas, the jalea de mariscos is a party on a plate, a mountain of perfectly fried calamari, shrimp, and fish crowned with tart salsa criolla, homemade tartar sauce, and fried hunks of cassava and potato.
24354 Muirlands Blvd.,Lake Forest,
Peru Peru Grill
2415 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim,
7035 Lincoln Ave., Buena Park,