The day I go to review the recently opened Peruvian Restaurant Somos Perú (Soestdijksekade 593), it happens to be one of those rare days in The Hague on which the sun is shining, the temperature is high, the breeze is mild, and you would most definitely expect to find the majority of locals at the beach. However, as my dinner companions and I approach the restaurant, I notice that the place is buzzing with Spanish chatter and live Latin-American music. As we walk through the door, we are greeted with a friendly: “¡Buenos días!”, by one of the guitarists and apparently find ourselves amongst the entire Latin-American population of The Hague, with a few Spanish speaking Dutchies thrown into the mix.
Somos Perú has barely been open a year, yet has quickly drawn attention from a wide and diverse audience. Thanks to the, as of late, growing popularity of Peruvian cuisine amongst international chefs, Somos Perú managed to get into this niche early and is currently the only authentic, Peruvian kitchen in The Hague and surrounds. It is also evident that this was very welcomed by the city’s Latin-American community as the restaurant now seemingly serves as a watering hole of sorts, with diners around us sipping on their Inca Kolas or Pisco Sours, and nostalgically listening to the guitar duo play familiar, Latin-American songs.
The restaurant’s interior is humble, yet comfortable, decorated primarily in the traditional Peruvian colours; white and red, with hand-painted paintings of The Hague sceneries adorning the walls. The menu has been kept short, which to me is always a good sign, and is comprised of a mixture of traditional Peruvian dishes. Among the appetizers, one can find multiple seafood dishes, including various kinds of Ceviche’s (fresh, raw seafood cured in citrus juices and flavoured with coriander, aji and/or chilli), as well as the rather infamous Causa Rellena (a savoury trifle, consisting of layers of mashed potatoes filled with minced chicken or tuna, avocado, aji Amarillo, egg, lettuce, and olives). The section of main dishes reveals more classics such as the Lomo Saltado (slices of tender beef, prepared in coriander, onion, tomato, and peppers) or Arroz con Pato (duck breast marinated in dark beer and chichi de jora, served with rice cooked in a coriander sauce). Also the dessert section is kept short, focusing primarily on traditional dishes such as Crema Volteada (a pudding-like dessert made from full cream and sweetened condensed milk) or Arroz con Leche (Peruvian rice pudding).
As always, eager to try as many dishes as possible, my dinner companions and I agree on a few starters, one main, and a dessert to share. The dishes that made the cut were the following: Ceviche de Pescado (since one can never go wrong with this classic on a warm day), Choros a la Chalaca (stuffed mussles with chopped onion, tomato, cooked corn grains, and lime juice), Palta Rellena (avocado filled with tuna and mixed veggies), Lomo Saltado and Crema Volteada.
While awaiting their food, each table is serenaded by the two guitarists singing and playing their hearts out and occasionally joined by the enthusiastic and vivacious restaurant owner, Edwin de la Cruz, whose wife and son are running the kitchen. Once the dishes arrive at the table, it is a feast for the eyes as well for the nose and mouth. Even though the plating is simple and rather traditional, the vibrant colours and pungent scents of garlic and fresh herbs make up for it, and one cannot help but smile and dig in. Each dish is a perfect balance of flavours, accompanied with a range of textures, as is standard for the Peruvian kitchen. The Ceviche de Pescado for instance, is authentically served with slices of cooked sweet potato and corn prepared in various ways (cooked and fried). The Choros a la Chalaca and Palta Rellena are perfectly seasoned and pleasantly surprise you with their freshness. Also the Lomo Saltado is served authentically with a heap of cooked, white rice and fries on the side, and lives up to its popularity. The Crema Volteada is not too sweet, nor too heavy, and makes a great conclusion to dinner.
Overall, Somo Perú’s kitchen is honest, delicious, and unpretentious, and can be recommended to anyone who is looking to experience the authentic and traditional Peruvian cuisine.
However, the whole experience is not complete until one (or several) Pisco Sours have been devoured. This sweet and sour cocktail (reminiscent of a lemon meringue tart in liquid, alcoholic form) is simply one of the best ways to round off a warm and sunny day, and I am already looking forward to my next one.