During our four months tour of South America, we arrived at the Capital of Peru, Lima, also known as the Gastronomic Capital of South America. After we have explored the area of Miraflores, we understood why this city have earnt this title. From the street food to the fine dining restaurant, this city have a lot of great food to offer. Chefs in Peru are from all over different regions and have different cooking techniques combining the traditional ingredients from the Andes, the Jungle and the coast. Many top ranking restaurants in the world are found here in the city of Lima. We have been travelling on a budget for over two months now, but we have booked a restaurant, ranked fourth best in the world, before we have even left Australia. This restaurant is called Central Restaurante.
Although we have a limited budget, our year travel is about experiences. We could spend a quarter of our year’s travel budget on a 10 day travel to Antarctica and spent as little as $30USD for a week on food in Easter Island, because it was all about the Maoi heads not about the food (Further Reading: How to Travel Easter Island on a budget?) In Peru, we are willing to fine dine in this top restaurant.
Central Restaurante was named Best Restaurant of Peru by Peruvian dining guide for three consecutive years and is currently awarded Best Restaurant in Latin America by Latin America’s best 50 restaurant. Central Restaruant entered as number 50 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant in 2013, climbed to ranked 15 in 2014 and in 2015 it is ranked 4th best restaurant in the world. We have really high expectations of this place before we have even entered Central Restaurante.
Central Restaurante is a closed door restaurant which you will have to book in advance. Luckily the booking system is very easy to navigate online. On the day, Winny and I walked right passed the entrance as it is not very noticeable. There were two people guarding the outside and one opened this huge wooden door with a pleasant smile and gave us no hassle. Since we only travel in carry-on size backpacks, we really didn’t have any formal dining clothes, but I confirmed with Central Restaurante beforehand that they do not have any dress codes. I walked into this extremely sophisticated restaurant in my extremely touristy casual wear and I felt very welcomed and treated like a VIP.
Central Restaurante is cozy, simple, minimalistic but classy. The back wall of the restaurant is window view to the kitchen. It was an interactive feel seeing more than 10 chefs working away on our fine cuisine. The waiters were perfect. They were extremely attentive and always wear a smile.
First the food was coming out at a rate slightly quicker than what we like. Without any request, we simply ate at a slower rate as we wanted to enjoy our food more slowly, the chefs and the serving team completely coped and served the dishes matching the rate we were eating. We were quite impressed with how things were handled at Central Restaurante.
We have selected the 12 dish degustation online. Before we were seated, we were given a very well printed list of the 12 dishes and the altitude number of where the ingredients of the dish is found in.
Central Restaurante has a multidisciplinary team which travels throughout Peru to search of new products. Ingredients for each of our dish could range from the ocean to the high Andes Mountain and each ingredient has an interesting story. Each of these dish were also plated in a way to remind us where the ingredients of the dish are from, such as in the jungle floor or on the coral reef. We ate these dishes over 2 hour period and we enjoyed every moment as we felt like we were on an exploration to different parts of Peru. The following is a little tour of our food adventure.
Central Restaurante 12 Courses Mater Ecosystems Degustation
Spiders on a Rock (-5 M)
As the name of the dish sound, the dish ingredients are the crawlers on the sea rocks, Limpet (sea snail), sargassum (seaweed) and crab. This entrée is placed on plate with brown and green rock and sea weed. It feels like we are picking this delicacy off the rocky shore. The taste of the food is beautiful. Bursts of ocean flavor without being over powering and the flavor changes almost with each chew.
Valley of the Tree (230 M)
After we were taken to the farm lands with a broken clay dish serving three little finger food size entrée. Overall feel of these gives you a feeling of the woods. First is avocado coated with Panca Chili Pepper. The chili is not hot, has an interesting texture like wood powder but very eatable and it really compliments the avocado. The part of the avocado has a stringy bits in the middle but could chew these with no issue. The piece was so small but so much sophistication in the preparation. The second bite is like eating packed tasty bread crust. The third is an emulsion of cactus on biscuit and eatable flowers embedded.
High Jungle (860 M)
A slice of crisp, sweet-tasting, tuberous root called Yacon eaten cold. It was served on a wooden stand frozen cold, decorated with some twirl leaves. It felt like we were picking this delicious piece of root off the cold forest floor. It was a lovely experience.
River Scales (180 M)
It was an interesting combination of ingredients. First it has a green biscuit made with pistachio and chia with an excellent crunch and taste. The Gamitana fish was sliced finely, salted slightly so the texture was chewy, slightly sticky and was placed on this biscuit. Finally the whole thing is topped with an emulsion of river snail which comes with a creamy and silky taste. The flavor works well together. This dish was served on a wooden box filled with leaves making us feel like we were picking this river food off jungle leaves.
Andean Plateau (3900 M)
This time we are taken high into the Andes with the freeze dry potato chip made in the high mountains sprinkled with tunta and served on a rock. This is basically the end of our entrée section so we were also given an anise seed bread with herb sauce and house made butter. Winny loved this butter. The bread and butter is probably the best we had in any fine dining restaurant. The bread was also served on toasted coca leaves which the indigenous people chew to combat altitude sickness.
Marine Soil (-20 M)
It was time to eat from the sea and we were served with clams topped with a little bit of lime mixed in a creamy emulsion that taste like the sea. The ocean feel in these clams were brilliant. These are then topped with a yellow sweet cucumber dished cold.
Extreme Stem (2875 M)
Roots and berries of the high mountain. Oca, mashwa and elderberry. These were cooked in at least four different ways and brought together to form this dish. A hint of sweetness, mooshness of softness, clean crisp and warmth in warm salty sauce. You get the complexity of this dish.
Close Fishing (-10 M)
Now we feel like we were eating the coral. The dish had an amazing visual. We didn’t quite believe the silvery foam like coral item on our dish was eatable. The coral like item was beaten egg white with squid ink and between the coral were sea weed biscuits. Hiding under our man made coral were some perfectly grilled octopus legs. An amazing dish served with some octopus soup served in a cup.
Low Andes Mountain (1800 M)
When this dish was served, we were shown a dried cow’s heart. We were explained that the dish consists of some shaving of this dried heart. The dish also had a combination of at least 4 different quinoa and topped with quinoa milk. These were typical ingredients found in the Peru mountains. Amongst these were some very soft beef pieces. The whole dish gave a very earthy feel and a very earthy appearance.
Green Highlands (1050 M)
Our dessert began with the most interesting ingredient of tonight. We were eating eatable clay from the Titicaca region mixed with chocolate. Buried under these clay is a 70% coco chocolate sorbet. Surrounding this sorbet are some Lucama fruit biscuit.
Valley between the Andes (2190 M)
Caramel jelly with tea like taste plated on a rectangular stone. Sweet potato crisp attached on caramel paste frozen on a freezing piece of ice pole and chocolate pieces with cactus emulsion served on a frozen bean plate. These dishes gives a taste and visual like the cold valley areas in Peru. It was a nice finish to desert and a combination of some very distinct but unique and new taste to our taste bud.
Solar Mucilage (200 M)
An infused water which has a slightly sweet and silky taste. A cold drink served with the last dish.
Price of this 12 course degustation is 318 Peruvian Sole per person and you can also have the option of 398 Peruvian Sole for 17 course degustation. We loved every moment of this dining experience at Central Restaurante. We highly recommend dining at Central Restaurante if you do visit the Gastronomic Capital of South America!
Address: Santa Isabel 376 Miraflores Lima, Peru