Chicha Brings Vibrant, Modern Peruvian Cuisine to Vancouver

Chicha: tasty, healthy and novel plates

A Chicha highlight: quinoa salad with red onion, mango and avocado plus jalapeño and Haucatay dressing

A Chicha highlight: quinoa salad with red onion, mango and avocado plus jalapeño and Haucatay dressing

Chicha, 136 East Broadway, between Quebec and Main, 604-620-3693. Open for dinner nightly; for lunch maybe in the fall.

 

Even after more than a few years in this business, I never fail to be impressed when people hit the ground running.

When I bumped into chef Shelome Bouvette, back in April, and she told me she was leaving Lolita’s to “do Peruvian” (with co-owners Allison Flook and Kumiko Umeno) I figured it would be good. Shelome doesn’t do anything by half measure. But I wasn’t prepared to be wowed in the way that we were.

Compact, smart and super friendly

Compact, smart and super friendly

There’s nothing fancy about Chicha’s room but it’s smart, compact, super friendly—and works just fine. And I suspect the rent is right: not a small consideration, especially given that prices are pretty reasonable ($10-$17). Less if you just want to snack on quinoa fritters or cassava root fries.

Chicha's Pisco sour—a good place to start!

Chicha’s Pisco sour—a good place to start!

The beer list is equally compact, but respectable, including a small, local draught selection that includes the likes of East Side Bitter and 49th Parallel Hopperazzi. The wine list offers an efficient offering of Chilean and Argentine labels, including Emiliana  Novus organic Chardonnay Marsanne ($8 gls. – excellent!).  Next time, though based on our Pisco sour alone, we’ll be doing more thorough research on the cocktail list.

You can tell so much about a restaurant in the first 20 seconds, which is about how long it took for the friendly staff to seat us. Explaining the menu took a little longer … The crew here are happy to take their time explaining some of the less familiar ingredients and tastes. It all makes for a great, new—and unique—addition to our scene.

Aside from being a traditional corn drink (sometimes beer), “Chicha” in Peruvian (according to Wiki) also means “an informal, popular, cheap and transient arrangement, creating the “Cultura Chicha” (“Chicha Culture”)”

We can’t wait to go back for more “Cultura Chicha” …

 

Here’s our review from this weekend’s Courier

Hired Belly: Chicha dishes out all shades of Peruvian fare

Lolita’s chef brings tastes of Peru to Mount Pleasant

by Tim Pawsey – contributing writer

Can a restaurant’s appeal be directly proportionate to the time spent on the menu in blissful indecision? Such is the case at newly unwrapped Chicha, where our party of four sits transfixed, wondering out loud if maybe we should just order one of everything.

No doubt part of the lure is the novelty of Peruvian cuisine, for the most part new to Vancouver—though not to Chicha co-owner Shelome Bouvette, who swears it’s much more than just the Next Big Thing.

Chicha's Shelome Bouvette- celebrating the ascent of Peruvian cuisine

Chicha’s Shelome Bouvette- celebrating the ascent of Peruvian cuisine

When we ask: “How come such passion for all things Peruvian?” her already beaming face breaks into a broad grin as she recalls her voyage of discovery to Mistura. Lima’s annual festival attracts not only culinary luminati from around the world (such as Ferran Adrià and Hester Blumenthal) but an audience of close to half a million people over its ten days.

Bouvette’s plan to introduce Vancouverites to Peru’s unique fare is well manifest at this compact but not cramped, utterly laid back and friendly, TV-free spot on Broadway near Main, which this night is bathed in early evening sunlight.

Our well travelled group is awestruck as we explore causa: brightly coloured combinations that transport the humble potato (and us) to new heights.

A trio of Causa, creatively contrived, unlikely—and delicious—whipped potato variatiations

A trio of Causa, creatively contrived, unlikely—and delicious—whipped potato variatiations

Friendly dissent breaks out (always a good sign) as to which is the favourite. It’s a toss-up between Cangrejo (perfectly piquant crab salad and avocado with mango and aji amarillo, $12) and Atün—delectably fresh Albacore tuna perched on top of an unlikely vibrant green tower of whipped cilantro potato that plays exquisitely off passion fruit ponzu and wasabi cream, $11.

Also not to be discounted, the Verduras ($9), with lima beans and black mint over vividly purple beetroot puréed potato. Whichever way, we’re hooked on a symphony of riotous taste and colour, the ingredients fresh and flavours simply conceived yet at the same time ingeniously clever.

Tacu-Tacu de Locro de Zapallo, a superb combination

Tacu-Tacu de Locro de Zapallo, a superb combination that’s as tasty as it looks

It’s that artful point of difference and the little ambushes that sets these plates apart, such as velvet smooth butternut squash stew of quite extraordinary tacu tacu de locro: cripsy lima beans and rice cakes, topped with a fried quail’s egg ($12), or classic ‘cebiche’ of chilled cod with corn on the cob, cilantro and sweet potato. ($12).

A modern take on classic 'cebiche'

A modern take on classic ‘cebiche’

An artfully piled quinoa salad with red onion, mango and avocado arrives with a zesty though not fiery cilantro jalapeño and Haucatay dressing, $10. (The Haucatay herb, sometimes compared to a cross between mint and coriander, is indigenous to Peru). Again, it’s the combinations and contrasts that make this dish one of the best vegetarian plates of the year.

Another delicious composition: gently spicy Tuna tataki with smooth avocado cream

Another delicious composition: gently spicy Tuna tataki with smooth avocado cream

The chef has a great, sensitive  touch with seafood. We just couldn’t get enough of the chili crusted Tuna tatami with avocado cream and pickled radish.

It's the little touches that make the difference, such as the dark beer rice with succulent duck confit

It’s the little touches that make the difference, such as the dark beer rice with succulent duck confit

Yet one more standout: perfectly tender Yarrow Meadows duck confit, served on a coriander and dark beer rice that imparts a gently roasted flavour. At $17 it’s at the higher end of the list—and worth every penny!

Desserts are a “must try” too, particularly the sweet potato pumpkin doughnuts—with sneakily spiced honey that, again, adds another dimension. Go for a platter, you’ll need it, although you might also fall for the flourless molten chocolate cake… or the cheesecake.

There’s more, plenty more. But you owe it to yourself to make your own discovery. Settle down with a pisco sour (one of the best between here and Lima, so you might need more than one). It works wonders for indecision …Chicha-exterior

 

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:25+00:00 July 12th, 2013|Belly's Best Bites, Belly's Budget Best, Restaurant Reviews|4 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.

4 Comments

  1. Pedro July 24, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Btw: Huacatay is Black mint and it is not indigenous to peru

  2. Tim Pawsey July 24, 2013 at 11:23 pm
  3. […] forgotten these guys. Quite the best addition to Broadway and Main in recent years. I loved it (review here)—and their Dine Out menu looks really […]

  4. […] forgotten these guys. Quite the best addition to Broadway and Main in recent years. I loved it (review here)—and their Dine Out menu looks really […]

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