DOWN BY LA MAR
La Mar by Gastón Acurio is not only renowned for its incredible Peruvian cuisine, but for its secluded, luxe location on Biscayne Bay. Drive through Brickell and over the bridge to reach Claughton Island, where you will find the restaurant inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Make sure to reserve ahead to request outdoor seating, as my guest and I did. We were treated to a view of the sparking waters of Biscayne Bay and the impressive, illuminated Miami skyline. The menu was equally notable, with acclaimed cuisine from chef Gastón Acurio that incorporates influences from novo-Andean fare to Asian- Peruvian fusion.
NEED THAT NIKKEI
It’s obligatory to order ceviche when at a Peruvian restaurant, but even more so when dining at La Mar. My guest and I didn’t hesitate to dig into the Cebiche Carretillero. This ceviche comes in a giant glass cup, with juicy seafood like grouper, shrimp, octopus, and crispy calamari. Also included in the mix are sweet potato, choclo (chewy corn), and cancha (popcorn made from a special corn), all floating above the spicy leche de tigre mixture. The seafood absorbed the leche de tigre, resulting in a savory, lip-smacking appetizer bursting with flavor. For the main entrée, we ordered the Fish Nikkei, a whole snapper fish that is fried, deboned, and molded into a curved shape for an attractive presentation, with the actual meat served in crispy, easy-to-grab chunks. A Nikkei sauce was provided, which was a type of sweet-and-sour deal, and sides of bok choy and Chaufa rice really filled us up! The fish’s fried exterior was crunchy while the inside was salty, combining nicely with the sweet glaze of the Nikkei sauce.
I’m a chocolate lover, so of course for dessert I went with the Lucuma + Chocolate. Two generous pillow-soft servings of Peruvian chocolate mousse and lucuma mousse arrived on a decorative plate. Lucuma is a fruit native to Peru and tastes of sweet potato and caramel, a saccharine flavor. On top of the two mousse spreads were caramelized quinoa and sesame that added a crunchy texture to the smooth piles of aromatic goodness. Overall, La Mar is an absolute treat to the senses, from the remarkable Peruvian gastronomy to the charming smells wafting from the kitchen to the spectacular views from the waterfront terrace.
500 BRICKELL KEY DR., MIAMI
By Aaliyah Pasols