I’m going to write about food again. No pictures though.
At the end of a tough few days in Lima, my boss (for the trip anyway) brought me to a Japanese restaurant one Wednesday evening. He had enjoyed the maki there tremendously, he said. The restaurant’s name, Magma Sushi Lounge, fitted the premises snugly – sofas and coffee tables made up half, bar stools and high tables the other. Odd for a Japanese place.
My boss immediately ordered passion-fruit juice – he had loved it the last time he had it here, and had even got the owner of the place to write it down in Spanish for him so he could order it again. It took a while to come – I joked that they were still watering the passion-fruit plant – and when it did, pale yellow liquid in two tall glasses with straws and the rest in a small jug – in Lima juices are often served in jugs – he slurped up a good portion and then sighed, exactly like he enjoyed it a lot. I thought I’d drink it more culturedly, but the first inhale through the straw was amazing – I was hit with the sensation of sweetness and freshness and just-squeezedness, and the sweetness was passion-fruit sweetness but dialed down to a level that was not cloying and could be enjoyed in greater amounts. Before I knew it, the Peruvian server was topping up my glass.
We also had maki and salmon sashimi (fresh enough), but the yummiest dish of the night was something called the special ika roll – grilled squid stuffed with crab meat and shrimp, cut into rings, drizzled with a savoury rich mushroom gravy, just a teeny tiny bit gingery. It was so good – the gravy was magic: it should have been too rich, but it wasn’t – that we ordered and finished (ok, with some difficulty) another set.
The next day two colleagues and I went to Punto Azul. One of them had talked about this restaurant in glowing terms – very good, yet affordable. It turned out that there was a queue there – apparently it only opens 11am-4pm, and there is always a queue. After waiting for about half an hour and then ordering some food and then eating the cancha (crunchy toasted ears of corn, a little salted) and teasing one of the colleagues about the earrings he bought for his girlfriend and the other colleague then cajoling him into showing us the earrings (the other colleague saying he’d role-play as the girlfriend) and then seeing the earrings – I remember they were pretty and Peruvian but cannot for the heck of me remember what exactly they looked like; I think there were stars involved somehow – and complimenting him for his taste and pointing out other customers’ mixed fried combos in hushed tones, the food arrived. The mixed fried combo was calamari and fish and shrimp, with a light onion garnish on top that somehow took away all the oiliness so that there was just the batter and the freshness of the seafood to chomp into. The squid-ink risotto was black – they were generous with the ink, I said, and then we got to talk about how the chefs got the ink (I personally think there are ready packets of ink they can buy) and one colleague described the squid-ink seafood curry (curry!) his grandma makes – and was the star of the show. There was a surprising tang to the rice – think cherry tomatos, just ripe – and that actually made the risotto, usually so heavy, heartily appetising. The ample portions of shrimp, scallops, fish and octopus proved to be worthy accompaniment.
I got super-lucky when I checked in online for my flight back – there was an offer to upgrade to business class for about S$500 for the 12-hour-plus first leg, and I jumped on it after wondering if it was a trick.