Does dining sometimes feel a little bit like being with a long-term lover— it’s comfortable, they have all the moves down pat to get you to where you want to go, and it’s ‘pretty good’, but…Are you sometimes left wondering what other options there might be to spice things up for an element of excitement?
And please don’t get me wrong, we are definitely not breaking up our long-term relationship with the modern Australian menu any time soon. However, I LOVED stepping out of the comfort zone, having my palate and knowledge stretched and my senses surprised and delighted at Lima. A fun culinary affair, if you will!
Let me run you through my fun and tasty Peruvian X Japanese adventure that is Lima.
Lima has just opened in Walsh Bay and has a rather unassuming entrance from where we are greeted with a cherry blossom covered bar backed by a riot of graffiti art which is based on the famous annual new year La Diablada festival. The semi-open kitchen has a moody-industrial vibe. The super friendly staff are almost all from South America, and have a deep connection to the menu. We start with the national drink – an appetite wetting Pisco Sour and a Cusquena, which is a Peruvian beer, a rarity for Australian tastebuds.
Despite the heavy seafood and meat focus, gluten and diary free eaters are well catered for along with several veggie options. At this point you can either hand over the reins and get the degustation menu for $105pp which has many, but not all, of the standouts that we loved – or you can pick and mix across the menu.
Whichever way you go (degustation or a la carte), you should get the Sydney Rock oysters with tiger milk, palm heart and salmon roe. Normally, we like our oysters au naturale, but these were accompanied by the above sauce combo which enhanced the enjoyment without overpowering the star ingredient like a vinaigrette often does. Yum! I am still thinking about the melt in the mouth Dulce Salmon. It is a lightly torched salmon nigiri with miso and Rocoto (a Peruvian Pepper that is slightly sweet) mayonnaise along with salmon roe and pickled ginger on the side. The Furai Crab Roll is a dense combination of soft shell crab and rice with a slightly smoky and spicy creamy TNT mayo, similar to chipotle mayo. Suffice to say, they disappeared as quickly as they arrived!
Moving onto the Peruvian favourite that has wowed Aussies for a while – ceviche! We are drooling over the El Trio with Salmon, Cured Tuna and Kingfish. It arrives with a mohawk of grated, fried sweet potato and some hot AF jalapeños. It is also presented with these incredible dried and fried corn kernels that you can only get in Peru called Chulpi corn. Again, still thinking about these too… Next up was the pretty in pink Tiradito style Scallops with ahi amarillo sauce surrounded by fried sweet potato and radish chips.
The tight wines by the glass list gives you a chance to have a taste across both Old and New Worlds. For the seafood starters, we went local and paired it with the Torrontes from Mendoza in Argentina, which is grown in grounds that were previously apple orchards. To be honest, we’d never heard of it. This is a great lighter style, fresh, crisp white with a touch of aromatic and sweet citrus influences but enough of a flinty element offering great cut through with the seafood. Fans of Aussie Rieslings and restrained (ie. not the big green herbaceous style) Sauv Blancs will enjoy this. There is also a great dry Spanish Cava and elegant French Chablis to choose from.
Getting into slightly heartier but still light food options are the steamed dumplings with minced chicken, prawns and calamari. We have this alongside the Tempura Banana Prawns which are fresh and delicious. They come with a passionfruit reduction which was a tad sweet for our (admittedly non-sweet tooth) taste and a firm green mango and avocado salad.
One of their soon to be famous dishes is the Chafa Folklor is a great representation of the two cuisines. It has chicken and char sui pork belly over egg omelette covered fried rice with sweet banana and pickled eschallot. It may not be as pretty and instagrammable as the seafood starters but it tastes amazing. And you can’t come to a South American X Japanese restaurant and not have steak! The Japon meets Peru is featured on both the dego and a la carte menus and is a medium rare Wagyu rump simply served with a home made BBQ sauce and Huacatay sauce. At this point, we have consulted Google several times during the meal, so we can reliably inform you that Huacatay is a Peruvian black mint herb although it doesn’t taste overwhelmingly minty but is creamy and delicious. This was paired with the moreish roasted potatoes covered with a Rocoto and feta sauce – and of course enjoyed with a bold but not too heavy Argentinian Malbec.
As you will have gathered, this is a memorable meal that will have you telling people about it for days afterwards. Lima offers multiple layers and complexity of new (to Aussies….and my spellcheck!) ingredients that will stretch your tastebuds and your knowledge without veering into that gimmicky, random flavour combination territory.
We suggest that it’s high time that you cheat on your trusty burrata and barra combo and go on a culinary adventure for the night. And if you happen to take a new lover to join you for your walk on the wild side, well, we wont judge.
Lima Restaurant Shop 7/16 Hickson Rd, Dawes Point NSW 2000
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday- 5 pm- 10 pm, Friday & Saturday- 12–3 pm, 5–11 pm with a live band featured on Friday nights, Sunday- 12 pm- 3 pm, 5 – 9 pm