Wednesday, September 02, 2009

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, Peruvian Cuisine @ Pier 1 1/2, San Francisco

Today's Mrs Pitt birthday! Well, according to San Francisco's time that is, as it's Sept 2 in Malaysia. Mr Pitt sent out an email yesterday, "Reservation at 6:30pm today to celebrate my charming and loving wife's birthday"- La Mar Cebicheria Peruana.

Apart from San Francisco, USA, there are also La Mar restaurants elsewhere - Lima, Mexico DF, Santiago De Chile, Sao Paulo and Panama. Peruvian cuisine has turn sophisticated through the years, much different from its humble beginning as some of us would have probably thought. Known for their specialties in fish and shellfish - mostly seafood, La Mar offers quite a variety in this large restaurant.

Boys drink earlier in the day, girls drink later at night (as the photo shows!)

When one enters, you'll find a full bar area on the right serving Peruvian cocktails like the Pisco Sour, USD10 (pisco, lime, syrup, egg white and bitters). It's good stuff & rather potent ;o).

Pisco Sour

I was glad that we were going to have an early dinner as the place wasn't that packed yet. This meant that I could take some photos of the area (the place started filling up shortly after I took photos-Phew!). Filled with vibrance in the air and the colours from the chairs to the menus, right down to the table placemats and the lightings, one can definitely feel the Peruvian ambiance and I must say the energy in the air is infectious! It must be as I looked around and saw most patrons happily engaging in conversation while eating or waiting for their food to be served. Even the staff had happy faces while going about their work, thus delivering great service.

La Mar

La Mar Tiradito Bar
Large built up area; with an area for casual dining, an open "sushi/sashimi" bar - Peru calls it "tiraditos" and the inner area for slightly more formal dining.

Myriad of colours

Bar for Tiraditos
I really do love the myriad of colours in La Mar (by the way, look at the size of the octopus' tentacles!)

Celebration @ La Mar
On the inside : Large kitchen area that got really busy as the night grew.
Let the feast begin! Salud!

Complimentary Plantains
Complimentary Plantains - Banana, Sweet Potato & Potato Chips with 3 types of dips ranging from mild to spicy. We had three servings of these! Totally addictive and absolutely yummy - I tried the chips with all 3 dips and loved them all!!! (with emphasis on the exclamation marks)

Empanada Sampler
For starters, we had the Empanada Sampler (USD18) which looks similar to its Malaysian counterpart, the currypuff :o). Fried and served with dipping sauce, the fillings of each empanada was delicious - not oily and the meat (if any) were tender and moist. The four savoury empanadas each had different fillings - stewed chicken in aji amarillio sauce (de aji de gallina), fish and shellfish in aji amarillo cream (del mar), beef tenderloin, red onions & tomato (de lomo saltado) and peruvian corn choclo, buter & aji amarillo (de choclo)

Grilled Octopus Skewers
We also had two orders of "anticuchos de pulpo" (USD16) - These were traditional Peruvian grilled octopus skewers, served with herbed mashed potato & chimichurri sauce & aji panca. The octopus tentacles were amazingly tender, cooked spot on!

Cebiche Clasico
There was also the "cebiche clasico" (USD18) - California Halibut & red onions in habanero pepper leche de tigre with Peruvian corn & yam. I just love the Peruvian corn, the kernels are about 5 times the size of the normal ones I eat back home in Malaysia. Cebiche, the national dish of Peru, are made with the freshest fish & shellfish which are briefly marinated in "leche de tigre" (lime juice & peppers). Approach with caution, Mr Pitt bit into one of the peppers and turned red (his lips were burning too!).

Causa Tasting
These were sitting on the open bar area about to be served by the staff - the colours of these caught my eyes and I couldn't resist taking a quick shot of it. Causa is a traditional Peruvian whipped potato with aji amarillo served with either seafood/vegetarian toppings. Looking very much like Japanese sushi, this dish "Causa Tasting (USD17)" is a sampler of the few different Causa.
Limena - Dungeness Crab, avocado puree, quail egg, cherry tomatoes, aji amarillo Huancaina sauce with basil cilantro oil.
Nikei - Purple potato causa, Ahi Tuna, Nikei sauce, avocado puree, creamy aji amarilo & rocoto Huancaina sauce.
Criolla - Sauteed Mahi Mahi, limenan escabeche with quail egg, avocado puree, aji amarillo, Huancaina sauce & crispy parsley
Casera (vegetarian) - Purple potato causa, artichokes, asparagus, avocado & tomato confit with basil cilantro oil

Then the mains arrived ...

Peruvian food
"The Pitts' Meal" :-
Mrs Pitt : Arroz Jugoso (USD24) - prawns, clams, mussels, calamari, octopus, white fish & vegetables in juicy arborio rice with a blend of Peruvian ajis
Mr Pitt : Arroz Noteno (USD24) - a North Peruvian seafood combination with mussels, shrimp, octopus and fried rice with cilantro & Huancaina sauce
Zahara : Lomo Saltado (USD27) - Traditional Peruvian style stir-fry of sauteed beef tenderlion, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce, garlic with fried potatoes & rice. The beef slices were cooked medium rare as ordered. It was extremely tender and succulent. Coupled with the light beefy gravy, it was excellent. However, the "fried potatoes" turned out to be french fries - I was expecting something different.

The"Entourage" had : -

Tacu Tacu Sureno
Tacu Tacu Sureno (USD26) - seared blue shrimp served over canellini bean tacu tacu with chupe sauce and topped with salsa criolla

Most of you would know that I'm not a seafood fan, I was extremely happy to find Quinotto (USD16) - Grilled portobello (my fave), chimichurri glaze with roasted aji panca sauce over quinoa risotto. The Portobello was lovely, grilled till having a slight charred crisp yet remaining juicy. As for the quinoa risotto, it was bursting with flavour and truly delightful with each bite I took.

Mom had the Chorillana (USD29) -Roasted striped sea bass filet, mashed yucca, tamarind, red onion and tomato sauce. She ate it all up with real gusto!

All in all, it was an exquisite dining experience - the service, the ambiance & the food fared well. Great place for celebrations!


La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Pier 1 1/2, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111

Lunch :
Mon - Fri 11:30am to 2:30pm
Sat & Sun 12 noon to 2:30pm

Mon - Thurs 5:30pm to 10pm
Fri & Sat 5:30 to 10:30 pm
Sun 5:30pm to 9pm

Happy Hour:
Mon - Fri 4pm to 6pm

For Reservations : (415) 397-8880
Mon-Fri from 9am to 8pm
Sat & Sun from 10am to 8pm

Check out La Mar's website for more details & directions.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana on Urbanspoon


Lianne said...

I´ve tried Peruvian once, a dish called Aji de Gallina and tried cooking them at home. Not bad! Have not tried their seafood dish though and your´s look really, really good! We are thinking of visiting US next year after Msia in March. Hope to go SF!

J said...

Looks so gooooood... but is so far away... :(

CUMI & CIKI said...

excellent tweaking of the colors! very vibrant la.

The food looks great too.. wah, by the time it's time for you come home.. you wont wanna come home!

wmw said...

Lianne : You'll love SF!

J : Well, we have our very own good stuff nearer to home too ;o)

Cumi & Ciki : Ah yes, I'm sad to be leaving SF soon...aih...

jason said...

Nice colour. Love the blue countertops and the open ceiling. You know, quinoa is native to South America. ;)