Dine Out Vancouver at Chicha, (January 28, 2014)

Chicha, a Peruvian restaurant located at 136 East Broadway, has rapidly gained a good reputation in Mount Pleasant. Beyond YVR went there for a solo dinner this week to try the $28 Dine Out Vancouver option (for more information about Dine Out, see my friend’s post here).

I had tried to make a reservation by email, but I had not heard back, so I decided to go and try my luck. After a brief wait, I got a seat at the bar. Although I generally dislike sitting on high stools, it was reasonably comfortable. The staff was friendly, and I took a look at the options provided. You can choose an appetizer, two tapa-type dishes for the entrée, and one of two desserts.

I began with the “Palitas de Yuca” (described as “Cassava root, huancaina sauce”), which use the same cassava plant (also called yuca or manioc) that is used for the flour in Brazilian cheese breads, and which is also processed as tapioca powder. Cassava is fascinating in terms of its significance as a food source in the developing world. In short, it is fairly nutritious, but is very high in carbohydrates with a very low protein content, so a population that relies too exclusively on cassava will be undernourished. Wikipedia will give you a start. But geopolitical considerations of population nutrition were not immediately relevant. These palitas were fried chunks of tasty starch. I completely enjoyed them and would far prefer them to even gourmet potato chips. The serving size was reasonable, even if I would happily have eaten much more.

My two choices for the entrée were Verduras causa (described as “Beetroot whipped potato topped with lima bean puree, pickled beets, chili yams chips”) and Lomo saltado (“Flat iron steak, kennebec fries, red onion, peppers, tomato wok fried with soy sauce, garlic, and aji amarillo chili”). The steak arrived first, and I truly enjoyed the combination of vegetables, spices, and meat. My other dish arrived later, and had a beautiful presentation (sadly, the light was too low and my phone too dead to take pictures). But this whipped combination of beets and potatoes was rather chilly. Fortuitously, I was distracted by some reading material, and left it on the counter for a bit. It warmed up, and I enjoyed it much more after that.

I chose the “Lucuma, white chocolate, and lime frozen torte with passion fruit and raspberry sauce” for dessert. This was tasty, no doubt about it, and I happily consumed it. But I would have preferred more fruit and less sweetness. My limited experience with Dine Out suggests that restaurants should consider an option for a very simple fruit-based dessert, rather than adding another complex option on top of an interesting meal. Lucuma, by the way, is an Andean fruit I had never experienced before.

I enjoyed my meal here, and would happily return, although I might try to time a visit for a less-crowded time, and bring a friend so we can share multiple tapas plates.

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