Dining Detectives: La Mar Cebicheria Peruana – San Francisco
International Restaurateur /Chef Gaston Acurio opened La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in Lima, Peru seven years ago and has expanded to San Francisco. They feature Peruvian Cuisine made with local and organic ingredients, Peruvian spices, fresh seafood and meats prepared with Peruvian, Japanese, California and Chinese influences. The atmosphere and décor are upbeat, colorful and comfortable. There is a separate bar area in the front, large dining room and counter seating which is great for watching preparation and plating in the exhibition kitchen. They also have all weather dockside outdoor seating for dining and cocktails on the pier which has a water view and beautiful flowers in hanging baskets. We sat in the main dining room and started out with two Peruvian cocktails. The Pisco Sour made with Pisco Quebranta brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, and dash of egg white and a drop of bitters was quite unique and the Santa Maria Cocktail made with Pisco Quebranta, pomegranate infused tequila, ginger syrup and lemon juice was wonderful! We spoke with Executive Chef Diego Oka, a native of Peru, who was part of the team that opened the first La Mar in Lima, Peru. He was pleased to now live in San Francisco and enjoyed the vibrancy of The City.
Our first course was the Cebiches Tasting which was a sampler of Cebiche Ciasico, Cebiche Mixto, Cebiche Chalaco and Cebiche Nikei. Cebiche, the national dish of Peru, is made with 100% sustainably caught fish and shellfish then marinated in “leche de tigre”. They were all fresh and delicious and our favorites were the Cebiche Ciasico made with California Halibut in a classic leche de tigre with red onion habanero and Peruvian corn and yam and the Cebiche Nikei with tuna, red onion, Japanese cucumber, daikon avocado, nori, and sesame in tamarind leche de tigre. The Tasting is a great option for sharing and the presentation was beautiful.
There are over 500 types of potatoes grown in Peru, so we knew we needed to taste their traditional Causas which are whipped potatoes topped with seafood or vegetarian ingredients. The presentation of the Tasting of Causas was lovely as well. We particularly enjoyed the Causa Limena which was fresh Dungeness Crab on potato with avocado puree, quail egg, cherry tomatoes, aji Amarillo huancaina sauce and basil cilantro oil and the Causa Nikei which was Tuna Tartar with avocado puree on top of Rocoto potato with creamy rocoto sauce and Japanese nori. The Causa Camaron which was Sweet & Spicy Poached Shrimp and fried onions on top of Rocoto potato with leche de tigre aioli and the Causa Casera Vegetarian made with Yellow Potato, artichokes, asparagus, avocado and tomato confit with basil cilantro oil were also delicious. The texture of the potatoes was light and perfectly whipped to be the platform for the variety of these delicious toppings.
We chose two classic Peruvian entrees to try this evening. We loved the Arroz Jugoso made with prawns, clams, mussels, calamari, white fish ,vegetables, Arborio rice and Peruvian ajis which was served with rocoto aioli and toasted bread. It was delicate and absolutely perfect with a very generous amount of seafood. We also loved the Lomo Saltado which is Peruvian Style stir-fry sautéed beef tenderloin with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, fried potatoes and rice. The steak was prepared medium rare and was juicy, tender and flavorful. There is an International Wine List and of course we wanted to try Peruvian Wines but we were advised that other South American, California and European Wines were better. The 2010 Vevi La Mar Rueda Spain Verdejo paired perfectly with the Cebiches and the 2010 Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Argentina Malbec paired perfectly with the beef. We enjoyed both of our desserts made by Pastry Chef Astrid Gutsche. The Trio de Postres was a delicious trio of maracuya, pie de Limon and arroz con leche and the excellent Panna Cotta had a unique presentation. A Tuaca after dinner drink and a Double Espresso with excellent crème were the perfect finish to this excellent dinner.
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana serves excellent Peruvian Cuisine. The service was perfect and the atmosphere was lively and fun! We appreciated that there was parking right on the pier and maybe next time we’ll come with some boating friends and use their private boat dock to tie up when we come for lunch or dinner.
By Carol & Joe Davis
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Pier 1.5 Suite 100 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA. 94111