Every year, when we come to Buenos Aires, there is a new food trend. Several years ago, it was Asian cuisine followed by Japanese and lots of sushi restaurants, then came Peruvian-Japanese cuisine (Osaka) which seems to be holding out in the taste trend with the popular Sipan with two restaurants in Buenos Aires and a third in South America's St. Tropez - Punta del Este.
A and I went for dinner with R & F at the Sipan in Palermo Viejo's Hotel Palermitano. The restaurant entrance is alongside the hotel lobby which leads into a long room with tables on one side and a ceviche bar on the other. Further towards the back is a spacious terrace with comfortable sofas and lounge chairs. As it was raining, we couldn't sit outside and settled into one of the larger tables right beside the open kitchen instead. The menu at Sipan is extensive with several pages of ceviches (raw fish or seafood cured in lime juice), tiraditos (raw fish or seafood prepared with a Japanese influence), sushi rolls, empanadas and main courses plus a long list of Pisco creations. As we were unsure of what to order, we left it to the server to bring out four popular dishes that represented Sipan's modern Peruvian cuisine instead of their Japanese-Peruvian fusion dishes.
First, we were given a small bowl of crunchy corn kernels to munch on while we waited for our dinner. Then we received a complimentary bite of wantanes al tamarindo - delicious crunchy fried wontons filled with salmon and fish paste and served with a passionfruit and tamarind dip. Next came the ceviche clasico - raw fish and seafood tossed in lime juice, shredded onions and topped with two types of corn: on the cob and crunchy kernels, mouth-puckering sour fish chunks that were quite quite good but not the classic ceviche we expected. Papas Huancaina - slices of potato covered in a creamy sauce made from yellow chilies, cheese and milk sprinkled with hard-boiled egg pieces - bland and lacking oomph which was a pity as this is a typical Peruvian dish that should have been quite easy to recreate. Two hot dishes followed: conchas a la Parmesana - baked scallops topped with melted cheese and butter which were delicious just with a squirt of lemon and the empanandas de aji de gallina con langostinos - a modern take on the classic Peruvian dish, this version is made with chicken and prawns in the creamy aji sauce stuffed into a fried empanada - a spicy and crunchy mouthful although I wouldn't have minded a traditional aji de gallina at this point. The problem with fusion cuisines is that most of the time, the classic versions are already quite good and very seldom does it get better when fused with another cuisine, in this case Japanese/ modern Asian. It's often repeated but it does seem like fusion confusion sometimes. We ended the meal with a chocolate mousse dessert that was too sweet and not chocolatey enough. Lucky that we were there catching up with R & F so although the food was not impressive ( a few dishes better than most), the company was good.
Uriarte 1648, Hotel Palermitano
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Telephone: +54 11 4833 9383
Toll-free from a BA land line: 0810 77 74726
Retiro, Buenos Aires
Telephone: +54 11 4311 6875
Punta del Este, Uruguay