By Rebecca Cahilly
They serve cocktails at SuViche, the new Peruvian-Japanese restaurant just off Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. There’s a Pisco bar, too – featuring the traditional Peruvian brandy infused with herbs, chilis, berries and spices and offered as macerados (infusions), blended cocktails or shots.
The cocktails at SuViche are great; but the sauces are so good, you may decide to drink them instead.
That’s my tagline, not theirs. But it’s exactly what I said after the first bite of the Aji Amarillo ceviche. This delightful dish consists of fresh whitefish marinated in fresh squeezed lime juice, a house-made aji amarillo (a Peruvian hot yellow chili pepper paste) and “Peruvian Sauce” – flavored with Japanese spices. It comes accompanied by canchita (Peruvian “unpopped” popcorn), chocio (large kernel Peruvian corn), and Mexican sweet potato (camote) and topped with thin slices of red onion.
A United Nations of culinary influences on one dish. A new world order to, well, order for lunch or dinner.
“In Peru, we have so many culinary influences, from China to Japan, Italy to Africa, so we ‘Peruvianize’ everything,” says Jaime Pesaque, SuViche’s 35-year-old executive chef. “It’s hard to find traditional Japanese sushi in Peru. Our basic DNA is the aji amarillo. We are a chili-and-potato country, so you’ll always find those elements in our dishes.”
Over 300 varieties of chilis can be grown throughout Peru’s extremely diverse geography, ranging from rainforest to highlands to coast. So to say Peru’s culinary emphasis is on flavor borders on understatement.
From the tiraditos (Peruvian sashimi) to the jalapeño rolls, from the Pescado a lo Macho (breaded fish in a creamy chili and seafood sauce) to Arroz Humedo (Peruvian-style risotto with chicken or seafood sautéed in a pepper cream sauce) and, of course, the ceviche, every item on SuViche’s menu is bursting with flavor.
“Peruvianization” of traditional Japanese cuisine may be the concept behind SuViche, but it’s no fleeting trend. The first SuViche location opened in Miami five years ago and the Fort Lauderdale location is the fourth. Chef Jaime – who has been at the helm since the beginning – may be young, but his passion for cooking began at an early age. He studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Lima while still a teen.
Today he’s gaining worldwide recognition for his passion for the globalization of Peruvian cuisine, and has many high-end restaurant projects in the works from Peru to New York City, Hong Kong to Dubai. SuViche is the more casual, affordable concept and is a well-balanced offering for the Las Olas business lunch crowd looking to replace their tired Caesar salad and iced tea lunches with dishes that are fresh, light and easy on the wallet.
Something to toast with a shot of pisco, perhaps. Or a spoonful of sauce.
SuViche, 401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-656-3663, suviche.com