Picca: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011
We are, I think, nearing the Peruvian Moment in cooking, which is to say that point where Peru's intricate interplay of high-mountain produce and flavors from the sea, of pre-Columbian tradition, European aesthetics and Asian technique, are beginning to move from folk fusion to a full-bore world cuisine. Los Angeles is experiencing its own Peruvian Moment, although in some respects — several of Nobu Matsuhisa's signature preparations are rooted in Peruvian dishes — many of us have been eating Peruvian food for years.
Picca, a loud, glassed-in bar-restaurant occupying the top floor of the townhouse that is also home to Sotto, is the pace-setting Peruvian restaurant in town. But the approach of Ricardo Zarate, a Lima-born chef who began the current movement at his Mo-Chica, is the opposite of Matsuhisa's. Instead of inflecting izakaya cuisine through Andean flavors, he's filtering Peruvian cooking through the aesthetics of the sushi bar, so that causas, the criollo dish of cold mashed potatoes, becomes the base of a blocky kind of nigiri sushi, and the idea of anticuchos, traditionally skewers of grilled, marinated beef heart, has been expanded to include skewered sweet potatoes with honey and salmon with miso. The drinks, designed by cocktailian Julian Cox, are pretty left-field, unless you're the kind of person who expects frankincense dissolved in her rum. And you'll never run across a better version of carapulcra, an Inca-era stew of freeze-dried potatoes that may have been the first recorded instance of molecular cuisine. 9575 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A. (310) 277-0133, piccaperu.com. Mon.-Thurs., 6-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Peruvian.
99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:
Church & State
Din Tai Fung
El Huarache Azteca
Euro Pane Bakery
Fab Hot Dogs
Good Girl Dinette
La Casita Mexicana
Lazy Ox Canteen
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Night + Market
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Pollos a la Brasa
Sapp Coffee Shop
Son of a Gun
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Waterloo & City
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