So Andina has to be one of the most popular restaurants in Portland. It serves modern Peruvian cuisine. It was just a regular weekday and the place was paaaaaaacked. There seems to be 2 parts to the restaurant. A quieter sit down part, where all the old stuffy people were hanging out, and then a place adjacent to the bar where it was loud and crowded. I don’t think they mean to separate the restaurant like that, but what do you expect to happen when you’re near the bar? In the central part there was a cool guy playing ethnic tunes. The vibe was really energetic.
The amuse bouche was a fried cheesy risotto ball. It was lightly crunchy on the outside, and deeply unctuous on the inside. A good amuse bouche, always says a lot about the meal to come.
I’m not so much into cocktails with my meal. I just don’t have enough stomach space for all those empty calories in addition to the real eats, but it seemed like such a festive environment that deserved kicking back a bit of sugared up liquor (I do like my cocktails on the fruity/sweet side)
A bright, perfectly balanced mojito.
A crisp, fruity sangria.
Cebice de Pescado
This actually tasted quite similar to the ceviche I had at Mario’s Peruvian Seafood, fresh chunks of fish, drenched in lemon and salt, served with a small cob of corn. I think I’ve concluded that I prefer the ceviche I’ve had at non Peruvian, Latin establishments. Nobody got food poisoning from this raw dish.
Some salad. Totally unexciting. I didn’t have it in me to veto this one. Next time I’ll grow a pair and just say no to boring greens.
Causa de Mixta Nikkei spicy tuna, crab salad, crispy shrimp
A causa is a “traditional preparation of freshly mashed potatoes, infused with key lime juice and pressed into a cake with assorted fillings.” I was very excited to have all the things I love put into one dish. Spicy tuna?? Crab?? SHRIMP??? I don’t think I quite understood what the dish was, because I was surprised to see how it looked when it came to the table. It really was this potato things with spicy tuna, crab salad, and crispy shrimp on top. The dish lacked any harmony between the different components. All the separate parts were tasty but I just wished the dish were more special.
Yuca Rellena cheese stuffed yuca with an aji Amarillo and cheese sauce
I can’t remember too much from this dish, but it’s pretty darn popular and I’m pretty sure I liked it alot too.
Seco a la Nortena lamb shank slow-cooked in the traditional Northern Peruvian style with cilantro, black beer, ají Amarillo, onions, and garlic served with a canary bean purée and salsa criolla
The meat was tender and falling off the bone, just the way I like it. It was a hearty, comforting dish that was quite large and certainly filling. But being fatasses, we ordered more and more.
Conchas a la Parilla grilled diver scallops, garlic lime butter, crispy onions
I totally take credit for ordering this dish. It was seriously the most unique and delicious preparation of scallops I have ever had. “Garlic lime butter” sounds sooooo pedestrian, but I assure, it was nothing you could ever whip up at home. I think they sprinkled some crack in there. The crispy onions were a nice plus, but they only served as a vehicle to get more of that heavenly sauce/juice into my mouth by soaking it up.
We ordered one more entree, a duck breast which was slightly more rare than most people preferred. I still enjoyed all the delicious flavors. I forgot to take a picture!
Torta de Chocolate decadent chocolate cinnamon cake, lucuma ice cream, toasted corn prailine
Everyone was soooo stuffed at this point, but how can a meal be complete without dessert! One of my dining companions was like “No way Jose!” to dessert. We ordered the chocolate cake, since it was highly recommended by the waiter and I was very curious to try this lucuma ice cream. Apparently it’s a fruit, native to Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. It’s texture is similar to a hard boiled egg and possesses the unique flavor of maple and sweet potatoe.
I can’t really say that anything in that ice cream was uniquely identifiable as an exotic flavor. It was sweet, creamy, and that’s about all I remember. The cake was pretty standard.
Andina is definitely a Portland restaurant you should certainly try if you’re in the area. It takes traditional flavors and dishes, and transforms them into modern, innovative cuisine. I plan to go here again and again! The menu is HUGE (although this is not well reflected by their website) and per our waiter, ALL of it is good. For now, I can totally believe that. Stay tuned for more Andina posts in the time to come!