Marina del Rey: Dinner and Cocktails at Paiche
Paiche just opened in Marina del Rey and I swung by a couple of weeks ago to check out dinner and drinks. Paiche from the chef Ricardo Zarate is billed as a Peruvian izakaya. I have generally understood izakaya to mean small plates in a relaxed atmosphere. You eat a little, drink a little, eat some more, drink some more. Normally I ask how many small plates is good per person but we just went for it and ordered a bunch of things. Portions are not huge which means you can try more!
We started with a couple of drinks at the bar. My fine dining partner ordered the pisco sour while I went for the Last Ice Age.
The Last Ice Age – Pisco Porton, Hakushu 12-year whisky, egg white, lime, lemon, evaporated simple syrup, Fernet-Branca drops
One of the dishes we had to order was the uni shrimp toast. My fine dining partner loved this dish. I fear I got an odd uni. It was fine but not the luscious uni I was anticipating. It’s hard with uni. I find some just taste like the underside of a pier. But when you get a fresh one, it’s like angels singing in heaven. I guess I lost the toss on that one.
I love the wow factor of this kampachi tiradito served on a giant block of pink salt.
One of the other first dishes to hit the table was the shrimp dumplings. I liked these dense packages of shrimp. I would have also have liked to seen something else to nibble on- perhaps some seaweed or marinated veggies. I like that combo of brine or tang with dumplings. Next time I’d order the assorted pickles to go with. Others may want something spicy. I ended up chasing all the cilantro down to eat with every bite.
Pisco Sour – Pisco Porton, egg white, lime, evaporated cane syrup, cinnamon tincture, Angostura bitters
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the crab ceviche. The crab was so fresh and sweet. I loved the sauce with the dish as well.
We couldn’t go to a restaurant called Paiche and not have one of the signature paiche dishes. The Amazonian fish was stuffed into lettuce cups. I thought the fried bits of carrot were a great touch and added to the miso-marinated fish.
It was time for another round of drinks. A bartender friend sent out a Scotch old fashioned (not shown) for me while the fine dining partner got the Chilcano de Clavos. This was a great cocktail to have with food. The long drink had savory elements that was perfect with the light dishes.
Chilcano de Clavos – Pisco Oro Quebranta, lime, ginger syrup, clove syrup, Angostura bitters, seltzer water
Must train self to ignore veggies. No, actually these haricot vert (green beans) were good. Very lightly cooked, they retained their snappiness.
We started getting into our heavier dishes starting with the pork neck. My fine dining partner is actually allergic to pork but I like to think her association with me has lessened the allergy. The portion was just perfect to get a sense of the juiciness without stuffing ourselves before our grain courses.
I zeroed in on the arroz con conchas negras y erizos (risotto with blood clam and sea urchin) right away. I’m always down to try seafood rice dishes. This was great and I wanted more. I do recommend one grain dish per person.
Those familiar with Picca will be delighted to see there’s a chaufa dish on the menu. At Paiche, the chaufa is made with lobster. I was really tempted to get the duck to compare to my beloved duck dish at Picca but we were starting to think about more drinks and dessert.
My friend opted for the passionfruit caipirinha while I decided it was time for a minty drink. One look at the capirinha and you know it’s a tropical drink. The passionfruit picked up some of the passionfruit flavor from our chocolate tart.
Marucaya Capirinha – Leblon cacacha, passionfruit, muddled limes, pure cane syrup
I found myself wondering about the mint julep. Being The Minty, alter-ego name Mint Julep, I had to try the Georgia Mint Julep with cognac. Ooh, fancy stuff. The peach flavor comes from a liqueur but I wonder how it’ll be when stone fruit will be available.
The Georgia Mint Julep – Pierre Ferrand cognac, creme de peche de vigne liqueur, mint, seltzer water
For a sweet ending, we had the chocolate tart which is drenched in passionfruit sauce. It was a nice contrast after some of the heavier grain dishes.
I was back at Paiche for lunch a few days later and stuck to the lighter dishes. We got plenty of ceviches, tiraditos and more of those fabulous lettuce cups. We also had the manchego cheese stuffed yuquitas which are yuca beignets. Get a few of these for the table.
I love that Chef Ricardo has covered his Westside bases with Paiche and Picca. I’m glad to have Mo-Chica downtown. Now let’s work on something in Pasadena, eh?(310) 893-6100
© The Minty 2013