New restaurant invites patrons to travel through taste.
When you hear of sushi, gyoza and edamame, where does your mind travel? Would you be surprised to hear the reply, “Peru”?
In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, people might not be aware of the vibrant mélange of cuisines occurring in Peru, but one Plymouth restaurant is looking to change that.
“There’s a variety of different food from different countries,” says Cindy Xu, owner of Plymouth’s Ceviche Seafood House. A worldwide traveler, Xu explains that the Japanese and Chinese diaspora greatly influenced the Peruvian cuisine of today. In fact, there are even specific terms for both influences—Nikkei cuisine, which is derived from the Japanese word for emigrant, and Chifa cuisine, which denotes Cantonese fusion with traditional Peruvian ingredients.
“I tried to find a really good Peruvian restaurant in Minnesota, but I couldn’t,” Xu says. The University of Minnesota biochemistry and nutrition major saw her opportunity and has been planning the debut of Ceviche Seafood House for the past four years. In January 2023, Xu’s dream came to fruition.
“I’m very interested in nutrition, and I also love to travel,” Xu says. “The one place I visit, where I really love their food, is Peru. Their food is really fresh. They require really fresh ingredients.”
The restaurant’s eponymous dish, ceviche, is a classic example of Peruvian cuisine’s emphasis on freshness. The Latin American appetizer is traditionally prepared with fresh, raw fish cured in a citrus marinade (also known as tiger’s milk or leche de tigre) and garnished with spices.
Bringing Peru to Plymouth
Wondering what the reaction from the Plymouth community has been like? “A lot of Peruvian people come here from all around town,” Xu says. “Some people, they drive two hours to come here. I was so surprised.”
But Xu also wants to bring Peruvian food to Plymouth at large. “Maybe we still need some time because [many] people have no clue about Peruvian food yet, so they need some time to try it,” she says.
When asked what the overall characteristics of Peruvian food are, Xu highlights the healthiness of it. “We use the best quality of everything, seafood, beef and chicken. Everything’s really healthy.” So does Xu plan to go back again and visit Peru?
“Yes, [I’m going to] stay there for two months to try all kinds of food and choose what I want to bring here,” she says.
In the Know
Trying out new cuisine often comes with its own set of vocabulary to decode. This menu glossary will help you keep your phone in your pocket before your thumbs can start twitching for answers.
Ají de Gallina: This popular Peruvian comfort food roughly translates to chicken stew. “[It has] a creamy taste with some aji amarillo, that’s a yellow pepper from Peru,” Xu says.
Arroz Chaufa: Arroz, or rice, may be more recognizable, but the dish itself is a Peruvian/Chinese take on a classic. Chaufa, derived from the Chinese chaofan, translates to fried rice. “That’s a really famous dish in Peru,” Xu says.
Causa: Or, for a Minnesotan analogy, Peru’s potato casserole. “It’s a yellow potato tartar, mixed with lime juice and also some spices,” Xu says, adding, “It’s really healthy for you.” Between the two potato layers, Ceviche Seafood House adds either seasoned prawns or crab.
Jalea: Try this classic Peruvian dish of mixed fried seafood. At Ceviche Seafood House, the dish includes crispy fish and other mixed seafood soaked in buttermilk, coated with seasoned flour and deep fried, served alongside yuca fries, chalaquita (similar to pico de gallo) and tartar sauce.
Lomo Saltado: Meet the steak frites of Peru but with a stir-fry twist, which adds steak, tomatoes and red onions to a side of rice and hand-cut fries. “We are the only restaurant to use filet mignon for this dish,” Xu says.
Pasta a la Huancaína: Consider this pasta served with a huancaína cheese sauce that uses a queso fresco base. Xu describes the sauce as “a yellow Peruvian sauce with garlic and onion and yellow peppers.” The sauce is served on top of Peruvian yellow pasta and topped with filet mignon and shrimp, flambéed with the Peruvian spirit Pisco.