Peru is known to serve some of, if not the best, ceviche in the world. But there's another Peruvian staple, lomo saltado, that has been known to cause a fair amount of gastronomic excitement. Keeping with the historically adored pairing of meat and potatoes (potatoes are, perhaps, Peru's deepest culinary tradition), lomo saltado is a dish of marinated steak cooked with onions, tomatoes and French fries. What, dare I say, is not to like? In some circles, the fries are sautéed right along with everything else, softening them in sauce, and soaking them with flavor. But today, we take a look at two versions that toss their papas on at the end, so as to retain maximum crispiness.
For the first version, we take a look at the Norwalk carnivore haven Anticucheria Danessi. Their anticuchos (skewered beef hearts) are indeed lovely, like a perfectly executed lean steak, and for a restaurant known to specialize in all things offal, sampling their take on lomo saltado is an interesting exercise. The lomo has great flavor, elevated by the bright, refreshing presence of herbs. The meat is tender, the fries are crispy, and overall, it would be very difficult to walk away from this meal unsatisfied. If there's a criticism, it would be the lack of liquid in the dish–an addition which lends itself rather nicely to being soaked into rice and French fries alike.
On the other end of the spectrum is Mo-Chica, the more refined, classically trained take on Peruvian food, located in the Mercado La Paloma. Here, the fries are thick and starchy, stacked atop the beef like a Boy Scout might prepare a campfire. The cut of meat is higher end, and while also a perfectly enjoyable meal, lacks the depth of flavor of the day's earlier version. So it is with little surprise that, with slight inferiority in both the fries and meat, that Anticucheria Danessi wins the day over Mo-Chica. Now if I only I had a chance to try the version that Animal fed their staff a couple months back…
Anticucheria Danessi, 14351 Pioneer Boulevard, Norwalk, (562) 929-3398., Mo-Chica, 3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, (213) 747-2141.