When people fantasize about Peru, their minds often wander to Machu Picchu or the Amazon Jungle. What most people don’t realize is that you can’t travel to Peru without first stopping in its capital city, Lima. And as one of the fine dining spots of the world, we knew we were in for an incredible experience at IK Restaurante.
Each city around the world has its defining characteristic. It’s main attraction that lights up the faces of many curious explorers.
And Lima’s main attraction is its food scene.
With fresh ceviche, corn beer and fine dining restaurants constantly listed in the world’s top ten dining experiences, we knew we were in for a treat. But where to spend our one and only dinner in Lima?
IK Restaurante, named after famous chef Ivan Kisic, is one of Lima’s most decadent and contemporary restaurants in Miraflores. Unfortunately, the chef passed away in a tragic car accident before the opening of his restaurant. However, his brother Franco left Albert Adrià’s empire in Barcelona to return home and manage IK.
IK Restaurante’s satisfaction comes from expressing Peru through it’s intimate dining experience. With much detail and pride, you’ll find “the organic, the quality and the respect towards the products coexist to share protagonism.” The restaurant combines Avant-garde and ancestral techniques within the dining space environment to surprise the client with the many shades of Peruvian culture.
Our extravagant experience began in the low lit and small restaurant of approximately 11, small tables with a small show. We couldn’t help but notice the contemporary wood design paired with foliage immediately.
The design is meant to emulate a jaba, a traditional fruit box seen from inside. They then surrounded the “box” with natural plants and recycled wood from colonial houses. Hidden within the foliage you’ll find thousands of coffee beans, creating a gentle scent of dirt and espresso throughout the restaurant.
Upon each table was a light portraying various designs and items found from the earth that represented one of the many symbols of Peruvian gastronomy. Ours was the fish paired with stone and wood. Later, our server would wave his hands over shadow design to reveal a spotlight where we could view our dishes with more detail and amazement.
We sat down and first ordered a pisco sour, an absolute must when dining in Peru. Pisco is a type of brandy distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice made in the wine regions of Peru. I love just about any cocktail prepared with egg whites. Despite the fact that I’m not a brandy fan, this cocktail was incredibly refreshing and sweet.
Our server told us we had two options: the standard, a la carte menu or the chef’s pairing with several courses at $200+ per person. While we are adventurous, we wanted to experience a traditional evening at IK Restaurante the way locals usually do.
So we stuck to a la carte dishes and we weren’t even disappointed about it.
We ordered our dinner and waited for our appetizer. Since we were starving, we were hastily sipping our pisco sours to fill us up. Imagine our surprise when our server brought out a little snack: 2 pieces of yuka root with honey and poached quail egg with seat salt and lemon grass.
It was the perfect way to get our taste buds going.
The sweet and savory combo was meant to be eaten with hands and was only a quick bite before our bread and butter arrived. Though, this was not your standard restaurant bread and butter. This homemade bread with seasoning and sea salt was served with creamy butter and basil oil.
Finally, our appetizer arrived: the famous ceviche Amazonico. Paiche wok flambéed in pisco and Amazonian spices, like ají charapita, sacha tomate, and sacha coriander, served with a side of plantain chips.
The fish was incredibly tender, with a mild heat due to the spices. Those spices were perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the plantains which helped round out the dish.
Naturally, we needed a second round of drinks. Kev insisted on beer, being the IPA guy that he is. I ordered a second pisco sour only this time with camu camu, a sweet, Amazonian fruit known for its superfood qualities.
It seemed as though we had constantly been eating and drinking by the time our entrees arrived. I ordered the duck magret served with quinoa and smoked peaches. My husband had the Chicharrón de Panceta with panceta pork, sweet potatoes, aguaymanto, caigua and red cabbage.
I don’t think I have the vocabulary to properly describe the sensations my taste buds were experiencing.
However, each dish was more delicious than the last. Each morsel cooked to perfection, with a slight bit of spice and overall, topped with sweetness by the bountiful addition of fruits.
And then came my favorite course: dessert.
Our server told us the Lucuma Burried was the most popular item on the menu. Unfortunately, I am allergic to coffee (the dish’s primary ingredient). So I decided to go with what I thought was a classic chocolate dish. Meanwhile my husband ordered the banana dessert (anything banana in my husband’s eyes is perfection).
Kevin’s Frosted Banana was absolutely divine. It included a frozen banana, dehydrated soda, chocolate, lime gel, toffee and almond streusel served over reclaimed wood.
Mine was a little less predictable. What I thought would be a type of chocolate cake was a lot more airy and light than I had imagined. The Brown Bomb consisted of an egg-like shell of Peruvian chocolate filled with lemon cream, sour foam, rocoto paper. I was basically eating sweet air. If you’re not too hungry after dinner, this would be the perfect sweet treat. However I was looking for something a bit more dense.
Clearly, the staff read my mind.
The server brought out an extra ‘Happy Birthday’ dessert which included: three scoops of seasonal sorbet over a crumble crust, a tray of Peruvian stones with two chocolates that resembled said stones, a celebratory tree of ribbons, balloons and aguaymanto, and a small statue of Ekeko, the Peruvian god of abundance. It was the most culturally pronounced, decadent dessert presentation I’d ever witnessed!