Explore the intriguing flavors of Perú served at La Mar in Miami, Florida. The mastermind behind it all, Gastón Acurio, creates colorful fusion dishes that wow diners alongside the beautiful water.
By Brenda Benoit
I had been waiting for the opening of this restaurant since December 2013. It did not open until March, just in time for my birth-month. My companions on this little culinary adventure were Miss E. and the chickens who are always ready to sample new foods. The atmosphere was delicious, the inside bright with aqua-colored chairs that matched the color of the waiters shirt. The outside, facing the ocean and some of Miami’s finest hi-rise buildings.
We started with the Ceviche Nikei – tuna, red onions, nori, avocado, daikon, cucumber and nikei tamarind leche de tigre. The “soupiness” of the dish was unexpected as we were not anticipating so much leche de tigre. Leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk, is the Peruvian term for the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in a ceviche. Also known as leche de pantera, this leftover fish runoff usually contains lime juice, sliced onion, chiles, salt, and pepper — along with a bit of fish juice. ?In Peru, the invigorating potion is often served alongside ceviche in a small glass and believed to be both a hangover cure as well as an aphrodisiac. It was delicious, the tamarind adding a nice kick. Nikei is Japanese-Peruvian fusion food, the avocado and the cucumber bore witness to this.
Next came the Anticucho Octopus – mortero potatoes, chimichurri, botija olives aïoli, garlic chips, capers. Such a pretty plate to behold and with an intense flavor accentuated by the smoothness of the aïoli and the crunchiness of the garlic chips.
Anybody who knows me is aware of my obsession with Lomo Saltado. This version was breathtaking: crunchy fries, tender beef, delectable tomatoes and vibrant green onions. They describe it on the menu as “stir fried angus beef, red onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, cilantro, papas fritas, rice”. It sounded so alluring to me.
The Churrasco A Lo Pobre was a messy-messy looking dish: rib eye Angus beef, chimichurri, tacu-tacu, egg, chorrillana sauce, fried banana and somehow this made it all the more fascinating. It was such an ingenious mix of flavors and textures, each bite filled with gustatory surprises. This is an Afro-Peruvian specialty. It consists of a rice and beans pancake (tacu-tacu), a thin “sábana” (sheet) of steak, and a side of fried plantain, all topped off with a fried egg. It was so much food, enough to feed the whole table and more.
Dessert was special, yet another celebration of my birth-month – a chocolate, hazelnut concoction that was just faultless.
La Mar by Gaston Acurio features the much-admired Peruvian cooking of celebrity chef GastónAcurio in a fine-looking setting with dramatic water views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio
500 Brickell Key Dr
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 913 8358
Brenda Benoit was born in the city of St. George’s in Grenada and grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. She has been living in Miami for over 20 years, loves to cook, eat and to try new restaurants & cuisines - always with her camera as a companion. She's a dedicated cookbook collector and is in the process of writing one of her own.