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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kotosh in Lomita: Refresing Japanese Peruvian Seafood and Tacu Tacu

I finally found a place I like in Kotosh, a cute, unassuming Japanese Peruvian joint in Lomita. Yes, it's a bit out of the way and not close to the freeway but worth the drive. It definitely beats other Peruvian places like Mochica and Inti.
We had the classics, like a yellowtail tiradito, which was sashimi with a light ponzu-like sauce topped with sprouts. I think this was a variation on the traditional tiradito as it didn't have a spicy sauce. Our server offered a creamy, spicy sauce but it was different from the sauce that my dear friend and master chef MO made. 

The tiradito was refreshing and the fresh radish sprouts gave the dish a nice salad feel. Very healthy.

We also got the seafood ceviche, which was a mix of shrimp, squid, octopus and fish slightly cooked in a citrusy juice and accompanied by sliced red onions, steamed hominy, roasted corn and sweet potato.

It's the perfect summer dish and like always, I was relishing the combination of flavors and textures. You got crunchy, slightly sweet, tangy and chewy. It was a winning mix. The seafood was all very fresh and hominy perfectly steamed just so.

These two appetizers were good but the biggest surprises in a good way were the Tacu Tacu and Cusqueno beer. Tacu Tacu is a rice and beans pancake that comes out as a omelet with a side of your choice. The sides could include plantain and a fried egg on top. You all know how I feel about a fried egg on top. It makes everything better.

The choices at Kotosh, run by Peruvian Japanese servers named Carlos and Christine, included lomo saltado and Tacu Tacu could also come "stuffed" with seafood or beef. I had never had this so went for Tacu Tacu Lomo Saltado -- combining the familiar with the new.

How amazing was that rice and bean pancake! It was like fried rice except with much less grease and fluffy like a real omelet but there was no egg in it. I couldn't stop eating the rice and beans, especially drizzled with that spicy, creamy sauce (see photo above).

I must say the Lomo Saltado wasn't the best I've had. The fries, tomatoes and onions were very good but the quality of the beef could have been better. Ok, I get that filet mignon is expensive. Maybe it's also my aversion to well done beef but the meat pieces were a bit rubbery. I would have liked them more tender. Still, I had the veggies with the rice and paired with the sauce, my stomach was what I was stuffing.

We tried both Cristal and Cusquena (for hard core soda lovers, it has Inka Cola) and liked Cusquena better hands down. It was smooth without being bitter. Can't explain it but it tasted like it had character, I swear to God.

After all this food, we had the audacity to get alfajores for dessert (I resisted getting the flan too). I mean, I wasn't about to pass up a shortbread cookie filled with dulce de leche. It was solid. The cookie crumbled wonderfully when halved and out oozed out the deliciously sweet dulce de leche, or manjar, as I like to call it Chilean-style. Let's just say I could have had many more but I extricated myself.

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