When I first moved to Peru, aside from one friend (an amazing girl I met on my flight home from Peru on my first trip), my boyfriend, and his family, I didn’t really know anyone. All my English friends existed on Skype & WhatsApp, plus being on a 5/6 hour time difference.
Thank goodness I eventually met Vanessa. She is the sort of person that you just have to find if you move to a new country. We’ve not only become great friends, but also each others language teacher, therapist and food eating partner-in-crime!
This week we decided to catch up over lunch in La Preferida, an amazing hub for seafood dishes in Lima.
The casual restaurant not only serves an a la carte menu, but also a ‘barra de mariscos’.
This is a cold bar serving individual servings of dishes such as choritos (mussels), ceviche and pulpito al olivo (octopus in an olive sauce). These little servings vary in price but are around S/6 each.
// TO START //
After eating my body weight in canchita (amazingly addictive crispy, fried, popped corn sprinkled with salt), we ordered some individual portions from the ‘barra’ and a couple of Peruvian beers (a perfect accompaniment).
Firstly, pulpito al olivo (a shell filled with octopus in a thick, creamy olive sauce, topped with pieces of pecan).
Part of me really likes this dish, but the other part of me cannot get past the bitterness of the olive taste (I really dislike olives). I eat it from here though because it is one of the nicest I have tasted. There’s a slight sweetness to the sauce at times and the octopus is a perfect texture.
Next, some choritos (mussels covered with chopped onions, chilli, coriander and large corn).
I really could not deal with mussels for a long time; the texture of them just weirded me out a little. Now, I’m a seasoned pro, although it is impossible to get the whole mussel with topping into your mouth in one go. It’s much more ladylike to eat a little topping first and then eat the rest either with your mouth or a teaspoon! The flavour and crunchy texture of the onion and chilli really help to balance out those of the mussel itself.
// MAINS //
We then decided on sharing 3 dishes from the main menu.
Causa de Pollo (Chicken Causa – chicken with mayonnaise and slices of avocado sandwiched between two layers of mashed and seasoned yellow potato).
I love causa with chicken, and La Preferida serves theirs with large pieces of chicken in place of the shredded chicken you would find in other places. The causa was beautifully seasoned, and with that perfectly proportioned mix of chicken and avocado, one of my favourite flavour combinations. (This was S/18)
Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche – fish lightly cooked in limón juice, with chilli, coriander and red onions, served alongside large corn and sweet potato)
A fantastic ceviche. The fish was perfectly cooked, the onions slightly crunchy and it had the perfect level of heat from the chilli. Heat level is difficult to get right, because everyone’s tolerance or preference level is different. For me this was just at the right point of heat where you feel that kick, but without the long lasting, building flavour of too much spice. The traditional accompaniment of sweet potato was beautifully creamy and sweet, and the corn fresh and juicy. (kicking myself – I wrote down the price but cannot read if it was S/25 or S/35, apologies…)
Conchitas a la Parmesana (Scallops with Parmesan – Scallops served in the shell with a layer of melted and crisp parmesan)
Now, I will admit, my knowledge of scallops is minimal. I ate them as a teenager and I hated them; they were pretty rubbery. I am aware that this is not how they should be, but I could never bring myself to eat them again. However, Vanessa recommended these to me as one of her favourite dishes, so I thought that now was the time to give them another go.
I was glad I did, because these scallops were nothing like I remembered them. The warm scallops melted when you ate them and the layer of parmesan gave a real boost of flavour that I don’t think the scallops could ever achieve alone. Also, the crisp texture of the melted cheese was such a welcome contrast to the scallop’s softness.
As I said, my knowledge of how scallops are supposed to taste is minimal, so I can only give Vanessa’s glowing review as my recommendation to you!
I wish I could have eaten more, because the menu is vast and begs you to try a little of everything.
I must return to La Preferida not only for more seafood (and to update the prices…), but also for the selection of meats they have available for their sandwiches.
My advice is to arrive early before 1pm to avoid the lunch rush and when this place packs out. You’ll be disappointed if you can’t get a seat!
La Preferida has a few locations but the one we went to was on Calle Arias Aragues 698, Miraflores.