Peru is truly renowned for its sophisticated food culture and Lima is easily the culinary capital of South America. Located on King William Street for about three years, Culantro moved recently to its new location on 537 Main Street East. It truly is an authentic Peruvian restaurant.
When it reopened, chef and proprietor Juan Castillo invited food enthusiasts to attend a tasting session in April. Since then, I’ve gone back for lunch and dinner, but that session really epitomises the quality and skill the chef delivers.
Chef Juan came out to greet his guests one by one. He was very intense – understandably so. When I asked at what time he started his prepping, he replied, “Before 7 AM” When I put the question to him, the time was already 7 PM!
Chef Juan worked for ten years in San Francisco at five restaurants in total, all of them classic French or Italian. He comes from strong culinary roots, given his Peruvian background, but also thanks to his parents. His mother is still a working chef in Fresno, California, and his late father taught him much about cooking and flavours.
After a very short wait time, we were given small golden nuggets of roasted corn as an amuse bouche.
Then the tasting menu began in earnest.
The whole experience was an absolute pleasure as the dishes showed mastery of seasoning, balancing difficult and hard-to-marry flavours. Chef Juan showed his talent and hard work by orchestrating a symphony for the palate.
Not all the dishes will be available for lunch as some require time to prepare and would be available only with the dinner menu. There is versatility and many flavours in Chef Juan’s cuisine, allowing delicious pairing with your choice of water, beer, or red or white wine.
TRY IT FOR YOURSELF!
Culantro Peruvian Cookery
537 Main Street East, Hamilton