Marina del Rey has a new restaurant. This restaurant isn't a chain, and it isn't Italian. It's Peruvian, and it's very good. Those are words I've never strung together in consecutive sentences. I guess I should preface this bold statement by saying that I tried this new spot, Paiche, on a preview night, but if the cooking continues along the same path, beach loving foodies are in for a real treat.
It's hard to take the place seriously on initial glance since it's in the middle of the Marina del Rey construction with a Pier One on one side of the street, and the Marriott Courtyard sitting just behind. I took advantage of the strip mall action and did some shoe shopping at DSW before crossing the street to see if there could be a real food competitor so close to so many discount sandals.
They have an outdoor area, which could be nice when the weather warms up, though you can sit there now and inhale fumes from the heaters if you like. It's a decent size place with the now ever popular open kitchen on one side and tables lined up on the other so you can ensure there's no sick sous chef sneezing into your food.
First out of the gate of the 5 course, no choice menu was a divine spring leek and green garlic veloute with chive oil and crispy maitake mushrooms. The chefs took turn creating and serving courses and this was Naomi's brainchild, and I have to guess there was cream in here as it was rich and velvety and I'm not sure leeks alone could pull that off.
Ricardo was up next with a Tiradito de Paiche, which is bascially Zarate's version of his house sashimi that we will luckily be seeing on his permanent menu. Drizzled around the thin fish was an aji amarillo soy dressing with sesame oil that gave a nice kick to it with its spicy tomatoes, cilantro and hot peppers. A camote puree was placed on top with a few crisp chips, but not sure the sweet potato was necessary though it did provide a nice contrast to the acid and punch of the dressing.
Naomi moved us into a succulent seared breast and confit leg of squab with a side of asparagus and black garlic buerre blanc. I tried to tap into my French fork and knife skills that I acquired while watching Parisian eat fowl, burgers and really anything that moves with their utensils. Luckily I looked up at one frustrating moment and saw my dining companions with bones coming out of their mouths. It's times like these that I'm very happy to be back in the US.
Zarate amped up the meat round with a soft, but spicy short rib anticucho. This had another flavorful sauce that had us lapping from our plates and excited to see this item on the regular menu.
Ricardo produced the grand finale of a chocolate bar with a rich chocolate mousse on a cake like wafer. Unfortunately the bottom was neither spongy cake nor crispy wafer. It fell somewhere in between, producing a chewy crust for the velvety chocolate on top. It was best to eat them separately as they could each stand on their own just like Naomi and Ricardo, who together produced an excellent meal full of unique and flavorful tastes.
Paiche is now taking reservations for their official opening on April 2. I know that I'm excited to add Peruvian dining to my future Marina del Rey outings.