After the seeing Blackbird at Victory Gardens Theatre, Sean and I headed over to Machu Picchu Restaurant. While Sean had tried Peruvian food once before, this was a first for me. The food was excellent, and I definitely want to go there again. One of the great things about dining with Sean is that he is also a foodie, and he is open to new food experiences, so this was the perfect venue for both of us.
Our meal came with bread, which was good, and a dipping sauce. The dipping sauce was a light green, very garlicky and very hot, and quite delicious. If our appetizers hadn’t arrived I might have made it into a mini meal. One of the interesting thing about the menu is that there were many items that included soy sauce. The owner mentioned that Peru had a small Chinese population.
From what I understand, many Chinese immigrants came to Peru and replaced the low cost labor needed after slavery was ended. Japan’s immigrant population from the late 1800′s would most likely have fallen under similar requirements they had for US immigrants: that anyone who immigrated was considered a representative of their nation, and thus were required to be educated at least through high school and have other traits deemed suitable to represent their nation which was, at the time, vying for global recognition. So in general there were two influential subcultures that became a part of the Peruvian country and culture, which is largely mestizo. It is interesting to note that although both subcultures came to Peru under decidedly different circumstances, and both appear to have made substantial socio-economic inroads.
We began with two appetizers. The first was Tamal Peruano, which is ground maize filled with pork, egg, olives and nuts wrapped in a banana leaf served with salsa criolla (marinated onion salad). And yes, the tamale looks huge because it is huge! It was delicious, and very filling. While I normally don’t eat raw onions, they were a good compliment and the marinade took away some of the issues I usually have eating them raw.
The other appetizer we ordered was called Choclo Con Queso, which was Peruvian corn with fresh cheese and served with huancaina sauce. And no, your eyes are not deceiving you. The corn kernals were very large. Taking the corn off the husk and eating it with the cheese pieces, covered with the huancaina sauce was delicious.
For a beverage, I ordered Chicha Morada, which is an extract of purple corn with clove and cinnamon. Sean found it too sweet, and while I normally don’t like sweet beverages, I loved the combination of flavors in this beverage.
For our main entrees, Sean ordered the Lomo Saltado, which was sirloin steak strips sauteed with onions, tomatoes and french fries, and served with white rice. The fries were sauteed with the meat and vegetables, giving them more flavor.
I had ordered the grilled filet mignon, which came with grilled seasoned vegetables and diced potatoes seasoned with aji panca (chili). The potatoes packed quite a punch. The meat and vegetables were excellent.
For desert, our waiter recommended Alfajor, a sweet biscuit filled with blancmange. I had meant to order maduras platanos with our appetizers, but forgot, and it was just as well because I don’t think that Sean or I could have eaten another bite. We struggled to finish the dessert. It was a perfect way to finish the meal, with a hint of sweetness and the taste of a cookie.
Besides great food and excellent service, one of the other benefits of dining at Machu Picchu are their hours. They are not only open for lunch, but they are also open during the afternoon, during that difficult time when most restaurants close until 5. We had dinner here at 3:15 PM.
3856 N. Ashland