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Panca, NYC


Panca

Chef: Emmanuel Piqueras
Cuisine: Peruvian
Neighborhood: West Village
Price: $20-25 entrées, $10-15 appetizers
Phone: 212-488-3900
Address: 92 7th Avenue, NY, NY 10014

In honor of an upcoming trip to Peru (and Bolivia) my travel mates and I decided to learn a bit more about the famed Peruvian cuisine and visit a Peruvian restaurant here in New York. One of my friends chose Panca for it superb reviews and convenient location. I was excited because it had actually been previously recommended to me by a Peruvian person as well, so I knew we’d be in for a culinary treat.

Under the helm of executive chef Emmanuel Piqueras, Panca combines traditional Peruvian ingredients and fuses them with flavors from around the globe. The menu features several cebiches, a hallmark of Peruvian cuisine. There are also a few choices of tiradito, which is similar to cebiche, but made with sashimi cuts of seafood. The mains include anything from steak to rotisserie chicken. And of course the drink menu has the infamous Pisco Sour, a Peruvian brandy-based cocktail, which was very refreshing on a hot summer night without being overbearingly sweet. I also tried a Cusquena, a Peruvian lager; which had a hint of sweetness to it and was a great thirst quencher on a sweltering summer evening.

Roasted Peruvian Corn
Crunchy, salty snack that may as well have been laced with crack because I could not stop munching on it until the bowl was emptied.

Tiradito Mosaico Misto – Sashimi style fluke, shrimp, octopus, served on a bed of “Aji Amarillo” and “Rocoto” sauces
As the name suggests, the aji amarillo is a hot sauce made of a yellow pepper; rocoto is of a red one.  Fact of the day: rocoto (or locoto as it is called in Bolivia) is one of the oldest domesticated peppers in the world and is believed to have been grown by the Inca as much as 5000 years ago. The sauces were spicy and flavorful and added an awesome kick to the more mild flavors of the seafood.

Anticucho de Corazon – Grilled veal heart skewers, fried yuca and Huacatay sauce
I had never had hearts before, and loved this dish. The texture was something of a combination of typical steak with that creaminess of liver (without the grittiness). Another fun fact: huacatay, nicknamed Peruvian black mint, is the Andean cousin of the marigold. The herb is ground up and used to make the aromatic sauce.

Taboule Andino – Quinoa grain salad, bell peppers, corn, avocado, asparagus, botija olives
A take on a popular Mediterranean dish, this taboule was a nice side dish, but definitely was not the spotlight of the meal. Third fun fact: quinoa is a pseudo-cereal because it is technically not a grass. It is more closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweed.

Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken
Awesome, awesome chicken. Freaking loved the meat AND the skin. No fun facts about it, sorry.

Tacu-Tacu Con Entrana – Tender skirt steak marinated in an aji panca based sauce, served with Peruvian tacu-tacu
Tacu-tacu is a vestige of African influence in Peru. Black Africans, who were brought by the Spanish to work as slaves, used to mix leftovers with rice and beans for a tasty and nutritious dish. Today the dish has grown in eminence and is made with more choice meats rather than leftovers. Aji panca is a popular red, smokey pepper, for which the restaurant is named. Loved the marinated hunk of steak.

Sauces – Rocoto, aji amarillo, huacatay

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