For a triple-date night, we went for Dine Out at Chicha, a Peruvian-inspired eatery in the Mount Pleasant area. There were lots of options on the $28 menu, with some interesting combination of ingredients. I was intrigued.
Because of its “tapa-style” menu, instead of 3 courses, you actually get 4 plates at Chicha. Definitely a bonus, I’d say. To start, I ordered myself a Chilcano (left), a ginger-beer based cocktail. It had some nice acidity to it, with a bit of heat from the ginger root. Mr. ordered the Inka Cola, a Peruvian soda which we were told “taste like cream soda.” And it did taste just like cream soda, not much fizz, and a bit sweeter than the actual cream soda we’re used to.
And then the feast began! First, my Aji Amarillo Local Seafood Chowder was pretty good. I was expecting a bit of heat with the aji amarillo chili pepper, but rather on the mild side for me. In addition to fish pieces, there were squid in the chowder, tender and not like chewing bubble gum, which I thought was different from most other ones.
Mr. had the Palitos de Yuca, which was basically cassava root fries. They were a lot starchier than potato fries, and had a harder exterior too. The Peruvian Huancaina sauce was spicy, creamy, reminded me of a curry mayo. This was quite filling as an appy. While it’s good, I think we prefer regular potato fries.
Each of us received two entrees, i.e. 4 for us! Each of the Pan Con Chicharron Sliders had a hearty slice of pork belly, and the fatty part just melts in your mouth!
Texture wise, it’s all quite soft with the mushy yam and tender pork, but this was a pretty satisfying slider.
The Lomo Saltado had strips of marinated steak mixed with fries; not sure about its authenticity, but it was like a poutine (minus the cheese). The steak was tender, and the sauce was well seasoned. Yes, the fries soaked up all the sauce and not crispy anymore, but that’s how you would want them in a poutine, too, right?
Frankly, the Duck Confit Spring Rolls didn’t seem to have any Latin influence, definitely more of an Asian dish, but they were very good! The spring rolls were crispy on the outside, piping hot and juicy inside. Perhaps a bit borderline greasy. There was plenty of shredded duck meat in the spring roll, and it was really flavourful and succulent. I can have more of them. And I did, because they dropped some when delivering the food to our table, and they offered to give us another plate.
Our last entree was Rocoto Peruvian Chili Pepper Braised Lamb and Wine Chorizo Fettuccini; again, a fusion with another cuisine. The fettuccini was cooked quite well, perhaps a bit softer than the Italian “al dente” standard. The meat sauce was really nice with tender lamb and chorizo pieces, but we wished there was more of the sauce to coat all the noodles. And because this wasn’t saucy, the softer noodles kinda worked out otherwise it would be rather dry and bland to eat firm noodles. It was good but probably one of my least favourite dishes of the evening when compared to other dishes.
For dessert, the Spiced Aji Chili Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding demonstrated a good balance of heat and sweetness on the plate. Actually, my friend CFC found it too spicy for her liking, but I thought it was just right. There was a little bit of inconsistency, though; 2 of the 3 plates of bread pudding at our table had a hard bottom, which we suspected to be over-baked pudding. It was way too hard for our palate and it actually wasn’t very pleasant to chew on. Otherwise, the rest of the bread pudding was quite good, moist yet dense, and slightly gooey thanks to the dark rum dulce leche. And the tartness from the raspberry sauce helped cut through the richness. Our ice cream quenelle melted before it got to our table, though, so it became more a cream sauce for us.
The Peruvian Caramel Shortbread Cookies were really good! The sweet filling just oozes out as you take a bite of the cookie; the cookie was buttery, crumbly, and very good. There was a thin sauce on the plate, which didn’t do much for us; not even sure what it actually was.
To make reservations with this restaurant, you must visit the website and fill out a web form, then wait for an email confirmation about your reservation. A system that’s not commonly practiced (many use OpenTable or Urbanspoon, or take reservations over the phone), but definitely helps keeping track of all requests.
It was a Sunday evening and they were busy! Our reso was at 6:30pm but the table wasn’t cleared in time so our dinner started late. Then the snowball effect causing us to finish our dinner past our allotted time (a 1.5 hour time limit during Dine Out). People were coming and leaving non-stop the entire time we were there. It’s a tight, narrow space, too, so it feels a bit crowded inside.
Overall, this was a very satisfying meal. Great deal for $28 given we received 4 plates and checking online they seemed to be of regular portion size. Looking at its regular menu, just the two entrees themselves would cost close to $28 outside of Dine Out. We figured that this wasn’t a traditional Peruvian dinner but when you look up some of the menu items online, you will see the resemblance of the traditional version on our plates. I quite enjoyed my meal and I’m glad that I discovered this gem.
136 East Broadway, Vancouver