Friday, February 13, 2009

Wakatay - Nikkei Peruvian Gem in Gardena

While visiting a friend in Gardena this week, we stopped for a late lunch at a local strip mall restaurant.  Tucked away in a corner between an udon shop, a pupil-burning pink nail salon, and a Hello Kitty store, Wakatay features a traditional Peruvian menu and a selection of Nikkei Peruvian dishes, which mix Japanese flavors with Peruvian ingredients.  Unfortunately for Jorge Nakamoto, the exuberant and pony-tailed owner, the local Japanese community isn't too fond of this dangerously different fusion, and the people who would totally enjoy it wouldn't otherwise venture to the Freeway City. It's actually a damned shame because the food is really tasty.  

We started with a lovely, fresh dish of Peruvian ceviche.  Fish, shrimp, and calamari were served with an irresistible mound of red onion, yam, corn, and cancha (crunchy roasted corn kernels).  For the main course we had taiba for two, a pan-seared dish of seafood (and other meats) and vegetables in a delicious brown sauce.  

The most notable was the restaurant's namesake salsa.   Wakatay (or huacatay) is a variation of Andean black mint that the Incas first started cooking with centuries ago.  For the salsa, it's mixed with chili pepper to create a perfectly pungent sauce in which to dip bread, fish, fingers...

For anyone passing through the Freeway City, I would highly recommend stopping by this lovely, hidden gem.

No comments: