Jun 6 2012

Malabar

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I went to Malabar last spring when it was the 62nd best restaurant in the world (now it has dropped to 76th), and it used to be the second best restaurant in Lima after Gaston Acurio's Astrid y Gaston (which I have also reviewed). I thought this place was much more impressive than Astrid y Gaston and thought this should be ranked much higher and I had my best meal in Peru in this restaurant. The main chef at Malabar is Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, and he focuses on using wild amazonian produce, which to me was very interesting. I thought the dishes in this restaurant were the most creative I have ever tasted (I went here before going to Noma and Noma slightly beats Malabar in my view). 

 

I went to Malabar on a Tuesday lunchtime and it was full of business people, so the atmosphere (at least at lunchtimes) feels very corporate. The inside is quite dark and the tables have white tablecloths, and if you wanted to see the menu before and went on to their website, you could not, as the website for more than a year has now been under construction. I wanted to try all of Pedro's signature dishes, so we went for the signature menu, and my boyfriend and I asked if we could share it, as we thought it would be too much if each of us had a whole tasting menu (as there were so many dishes there), and this is probably the only place where I have been allowed to do share 1 portion of a tasting menu. The waiters could not speak very good English and the service at times felt very odd and chaotic, and for some people this could have affected the overall experience, but as I was so amazed by the food, I am still happy to give this restaurant 5Ms despite the not so good service. 

 

At the beginning of the tasting menu you get "snacks" which was 4 small pieces arranged nicely on the same plate: 1) fresh anchovies with ripe tomatoes, 2) refried plantane with cocona sauce and amazonian wild honey, 3) crispy pork skin with bitter chocolate, panka chilli pepper and moras pink salt and 4) crunchy Granny Smith apple and fois gras sandwich. Each of these snacks was absolutely tiny (see picture) but extremely delicious, although so small that it was quite hard to share it. My favourite one was the Granny Smith apple and fois gras sandwich as it looked totally different to what I thought it would be. 

 

Next we moved on to the “armor catfish caviar with hearts of palm, tofy and cold cecina broth”, and the armor catfish comes from the Amazon (so we see the Amazonian influence here), and usually is only seen at exotic aquariums.  It was great, I usually don’t like this type of caviar but the Amazonian type one tasted totally different. And I loved the uniqueness of that. Our second starter was a “fresh hearts of palm and Brazil nut curt cheese salad” which was amazing, and one of my favourite salads ever, and definitely the best heart of palm salad I have ever had. And our third and last starter was “raw scallops with parsley-lime juice, fresh Maca root an Cushuro”, and Cushuro is an edible Andean highland lake bacteria, which looks super cute and like a small round dark green ball and this dish was wonderfully presented and just delicious.

 

Then we moved on to the main or slightly bigger dishes, and the first dish was “Half shell pacific mussels” which were decorated with many different elements, topped with a little cactuls like flower and just looked like a piece of art. Next came the “Beef heart tataki with honey of panka chilli pepper flowers and corn sprouts”, which was probably the least memorable dish for me, but still very very good. The next little piece of food art from Malabar was “Roasted rock fish with sautéed squid and and black amaranth”, and black amaranth comes from the Andes and is a protein-rich grain, and I had never had rock fish before, so I was once again taken back by the creative ingredients and it was just very very delicious. The next course was my favourite one, and was “Lamb saddle with Andean stones”. The lamb was beautifully cooked and delicious and the Andean stones were potatoes that looked like stones, and incredibly delicious. I have no idea how Pedro Miguel Schiaffino could make potatoes look and taste so amazing, which for me shows incredible skill and creativity. The last main course we shared was “Giant river snail with chorizo” and the snail was presented in a round wooden plate and also had some salmon roe in it. This was probably the biggest snail I had ever seen and it was surprisingly delicious and I did not think I would enjoy it, but I did. 

 

As we had shared the tasting menu, both of us were still feeling quite hungry after the main courses and instead of moving to the deserts we decided to order 2 more dishes from the a la carte menu, a croquette type of dish and a seafood type of dish with scallops, squid, mussels and prawns, which you can both see in pictures. They were less impressive than the dishes from the tasting menu, but nevertheless very good. After finishing the a la carte dishes we moved back to the tasting menu and we were supposed to have 2 deserts, but the waiters forgot to bring us the last chocolate one (and I had had too many pisco sours to notice then), so we only were given “Copoazu and cucumber fruit” desert, which I enjoyed. Once again I was eating something I had not had before, as cupuacu is a tropical rainforest tree related to cacao which grows in the Amazon basin and which bears delicious fruit, a which taste like a mix of chocolate and pineapple. 

 

I absolutely loved Malabar, I loved the creative ingredients used, many of which I had never had before or never knew existed and just the beautiful dishes they created and the delicious taste and I had my most memorable meal in Peru in Malabar and thinking back this is my 2nd favourite restaurant that I have been to in the world after Noma. If you just focus on food and turn a blind eye to the fact their website was not working and the service could be a bit patchy, you will love it, and I think if they sorted these 2 things out, this restaurant would be much much higher in the world’s top 100 restaurant list. 

Maija rated: 

5.00

Location: 

Malabar
Av Camino Real 101, San Isidro
Lima
Peru
PE
Malabar Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 5