Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chimu is a Revelation

Chimú, the new Peruvian spot in DTLA, is a restaurant that is easy to fall in love with.  I can't recall the last time I ate at a restaurant where everything tasted so good and was such a good value.  The restaurant, in reality a takeout window in the patio adjacent to Grand Central Market, has the polish that one would expect in a much more formal and expensive restaurant.  Even the plating, although in takeout containers, was sophisticated and pleasing to the eye.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch there with Mark and Angela of I Flip for Food and we were all swooning as each dish was better than the last.

The Ceviche Chimu was made with raw halibut marinated in citrus and mixed with sweet potato puree, yuyo (seaweed) and choclo (corn).

The Estofado de Lengua (beef tongue) was served in a rich tomato sauce with fresh baby tomatoes, green onions and on a bed of quinoa.  We asked but the owners would not divulge the secrets of the salsa de madre.  The quinoa absorbed the sauce and the tongue was also remarkably tender.  I have had several very good beef tongue dishes this summer, including a great one at FIG, but this was the best of the bunch.

The Seco de Cordero (lamb belly) was my favorite dish I tried.  It was served with canario beans and in a black beer sauce.  Rice, peas and red onions all made an appearance in this dish.  The lamb was so tender we did not even use a knife to share it among us; a fork was sufficient to reach each and every morsel.

Heirloom Tomato Ceviche was a completely new dish to me.  Ceviche without fish was not something I had ever heard of, but it stood up against the meat and fish dishes and I would happily eat it again.  It is made with heirloom tomatoes, pluots (a plum and apricot hybrid), burratta, peas and leche del tigre.  This was the most visually arresting of the dishes we had; it would not have been out of place at any number of fine dining establishments.  The sweetness of the fruit and the juiciness of the tomatoes combined with the creamy cheese and the spicy tangy leche del tigre sauce led to a dish that was greater than the sum of its parts.

We lucked out and Rolando brought out a bonus dish of duck confit for us to try.  The duck had crispy skin and juicy meat.  This wasn't on the menu the day we were there, but I hope it makes it onto the list as it is a worthy meal.  This confit is in the same league the version at L'Epicerie and is better than most French bistros and brasseries.

The full menu is below:

Chimú: 324 S. Hill Street, DTLA. Phone: (213) 625-1097 Open every day from 10 am - 6 pm.

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