Review of Nory’s Peruvian Restaurant and some Interesting information about Peruvian Restaurants
One of the things I like to do is try new restaurants and even recommend restaurants to others, this is especially true when I have out-of-town consultants working with me. One of my newer consultants is Kevin from Flint Michigan. He is a true Midwest Boy and has an incredible palate for food an eye for presentation. Today, my blog will be written from the perspective of Kevin as he follows my recommendation to try Peruvian Ceviche (the best ceviche around). One of the Peruvian Restaurants I suggested was Nory’s in Lake Forest, as I used to frequent the sister restaurant in Stanton. I remember that it was owned by a Japanese-Peruvian and had some really authentic dishes.
So my consultant Kevin ventured out to Lake Forest to find Nory’s. “From the outside it has good signage, but when you walk in you can tell that the décor, flooring, tables and booths are of lower quality and show their wear. This same assessment goes for the bathroom”. Don’t get me wrong, Kevin indicated that “everything was very clean, but just looked very worn and cheap”.
Kevin ordered the full order of ceviche and while he waited, he tried the Peruvian Sauces Green Aji made from lettuce and jalepenos and the Red aji made from panca pepper paste. He indicated that the sauces were excellent especially with bread.
There were four different ceviche dishes on the menu, he ordered the most traditional Ceviche Mixto. At this restaurant it includes a white fish (probably tilapia), Shrimp, and calamari rings and tentacles and friend corn / red onions as garnishment. When the Ceviche dish came out, he was actually surprised by the size of the dish. At first look, it appeared to be all red onions and fried corn. Although, after he peeled back the layer of onions his plate was all seafood.
Keven described the flavor ,”The overall flavor was the seafood protein and lemon”. Although he did indicate that “the lemon juice didn’t jump out, perhaps the lemon was buffered by the fish stock”. When he smelled the dish, it had a “pleasant non-fishy aroma of lemons”. Below are his impressions of the seafood in the Ceviche Mixto:
- The calamari was pleasantly firm and plentiful
- The shrimp was disappointing small (no pun intended)
- The white fish was good in size and texture.
- The red onions were an appropriate amount, but should have been mixed into the dish
- The deep fried corn cornels were excellent
Overall, Kevin indicated that, “The dish was good, but not the best Ceviche he has ever tried” …to my embarrassment. Kevin did indicated that he “would order it again, but not right away as he would want to try other dishes first”. Kevin gave this dish 3 out of 5 because it is authentic, but definitely not without its issues. Kevin also said “I would go to Nory’s again for the authentic dishes, but not the atmosphere”. I did tell Kevin that the best dishes at Nory’s are:
- Lomo Sotaldo – Peru’s Signature Dish- Strips of beef, French fries, tomatoes and onions
- Tallerin verde –Green spaghetti (pesto made with basil and spinach)
- Jalea – Giant plate of mixed fried seafood, yucca, corn and vegetables)
- Peruvian seasoned Rotisserie Chicken- The Bomb- you just have to try it
A Note About Peruvian Restaurants
I like the classify Peruvian restaurants into 3 main characteristics:
- Chain or Mom & Pop Shop
- Upscale or Hole in the Wall
- Standard Peruvian or Japanese-Peruvian
The first two are easy enough to understand, but the third point deserves a little bit of clarification. Japanese Peruvians (Spanish: Peruano-Japonés or Nipo-peruano, Japanese: 日系ペルー人, Nikkei Perūjin) are people of Japanese aancestry who were born in or immigrated to Peru. Peru as a country experienced a wave of agrarian immigrants from Japan starting in 1893 through the beginning of World War 2. As a result the Japanese integrated into the Peruvian Culture and adopted their local cuisine and intermarried with the local Peruvians. One thing that maintained was the Japanese ideals of fresh food and use of vibrant ingredients in their cuisine. If you ask around at a Peruvian Restaurant, they may pretend not to know what you are talking about, but you can taste the difference.
A Note About Ceviche
For those who have not had the pleasure of eating Ceviche, let me explain what is ceviche and how it is made. Ceviche it is a combination of cured fish such as white fish, shrimp, scallops ect and cured in a lemon or lime juice.. Ceviche uses a process of curing to cook the seafood, specifically it is using the citric acids of the lemon and lime. This method of cook through citric acids is called “acidification”. The acids in the Lime or Lemon juice actually change the molecular structure of the raw fish to “cooked “ fish. Essentially you are chemically burning the delicate seafood flesh, that is why the meat turns white. An interesting note is that ceviche is a “short-term acidification process” meaning it does not produce the fermentation that is often found in dishes like Kimchi or Sauerkraut.
As a note of warning to ceviche eaters, short-term acidification does not kill all the bacteria that you would normally get when cooking with heat. In fact there are only a couple of strains of bacteria that are killed by the acidity of the limes/lemons. So I warn most folks to go with a restaurant that is clean and carries fresh fish.
A Note About the Author’s Expertise in Peruvian Food and Culture.
Author’s note: You may be wondering how Tom is a quasi-expert in Peruvian dishes and their fine subtleties. When I was in college I dated a girl who immigrated to the U.S.A. from Peru with her entire family. I regularly ate her mother’s home-cooked Peruvian meals and frequented most of the Peruvian Restaurants in L.A. and Orange County. On a side note the entire family was Peruvian-Japanese and I learned from their cooking lessons and stories that the Immigrants from Japan where farmers who brought their ideals of fresh ingredients to their dishes.