Is It Any Good?

A Peruvian Izakaya right in the heart of Marina Del Rey.

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Paiche on Foodio54

I guess I’ve been in Los Angeles too long, because I can remember a time when the little patch of Marina Del Rey was basically nothing but a strip mall.

Now, it’s…well…it’s really, really developed.

I mean, really developed.

It was only when I was coming out of Paiche that I remembered that this was the area where the late, and lamented Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch used to hang it’s shingle.

But at least I have a reason to go back now, because I am so coming back to Paiche.

I figure, even with Los Balcones back up and running, the more Peruvian joints there are the better.

Where Los Balcones is occupying the Neighborhood joint end of the spectrum, there is a little more gleam and polish to Paiche. They want to be the envy of the neighborhood, and they’ve well shot past that mark. This is a place to bring a date, to bring a party, to have your anniversary dinner, the works.

Walking in, the space is magnificent. Plenty of room, a great looking bar…and mirrors everywhere. And for such a highly regarded, highly touted place such as this, there wasn’t a trace of an attitude from anyone on that staff. That is remarkable. I felt as welcome as I do when I walk into my front door. Best of all the Waitstaff is enthusiastic about their menu, they’re proud of it. Ask ‘em questions, they’ll steer you in the best direction.

What truly amazed me, more than anything else, was the value you got with your lunch. This is a pretty damn good deal for around twenty bucks, to get a meal as finely crafted as this? I never would have guessed. (We’ll get into more of this when we hit What Should I Get?)

This was a fantastic experience, even for a light Saturday lunch. Makes me want to get that big Saturday Dinner all the more.

 

WHAT SHOULD I GET?: As I told our lovely Waitress, this was a difficult menu in that there was a lot to choose from for Lunch. I thought about the Estafado Con Carne, which is the Short Rib. I thought about the Pan Con Chicarron, which is the Crispy Pork Sandwich. But my Waitresses felt I should got with my third choice, the Lomo Saltado, the closest thing there is to the national dish of Peru. Lovely hunks of beef filet stir fried in with red onions, and really good, red, ripe tomatoes, in a Lomo Saltado sauce. All that was missing was a hunk of bread to sop it up with. Perfect done.

But before that, you get two appetizers to get your engines going. You get a tasty, and very hot bowl of spiced Chicken Broth, which was very nice, but what I went over the moon for was the bowl of Japanese pickles, covered with a couple of drops of chili sauce. This was heaven on earth. Sent me right over the moon. The blend of the sweet of of the pickles with the punch of just the right amount of chili sauce? Damn.

And since it was a Saturday Lunch, I said screw it…and went for a glass of wine. In this case a nice medium red, the Marques De Murrieta from Spain. A nice, nice $15 glass.

Yeah, sure. It totally screwed up my $20 notion, but it was worth it.

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing really bad. Just remember, this is a Peruvian Izakaya, Izakaya being a Japanese term for “Stay and Drink Sake”. The idea being that Izakaya’s are pleasant little places to hang out and drink some Sake and have some snacks.

Now before you go thinking this is some ultra chic, hipster Westside of L.A. thing, remember, there is a long, long tradition between Japanese and Peruvians.

Thus we turn to Wikipedia:

Japanese Peruvians comprise the second largest ethnic Japanese population in Latin America after Brazil (1.5 million). This ethnic group composes today approximately 0.3% of the population of Peru.

 

Peru was the first Latin American country to establish diplomatic relations with Japan, in June 1873. Peru was also the first Latin American country to accept Japanese immigration. The Sakura Maru carried Japanese families from Yokohama to Peru and arrived on April 3, 1899 at the Peruvian port city of Callao. This group of 790 Japanese became the first of several waves of emigrants who made new lives for themselves in Peru, some nine years before emigration to Brazil began.

 

Japanese immigrants arrived from Okinawa, Gifu, Hiroshima, Kanagawa and Osaka prefectures. Many arrived as farmers or to work in the fields but, after their contracts were completed, settled in the cities. In the period before World War II, the Japanese community in Peru was largely run by Issei issue immigrants born in Japan. “Those of the second generation [the nisei ] were almost inevitably excluded from community decision-making.”

Just so you know, the Japanese-Peruvian things isn’t coming out of nowhere.

 

PARKING: This is what surprised me the most. Parking was free. I parked just behind the restaurant in the Residential/Office Complex that houses Paiche. There’s a little garage right behind it, that services the restaurant, and the FedEx Office on the same block. Park there if you can. At least on Weekends, it was free. I imagine things tightening up for Dinner.

 

MAP DIRECTIONS:
Paiche
13488 Maxella Ave.
Marina del Rey, CA 90292

Tel: (310) 893-6100

Hours:
Daily: 11:30am to 11:30pm