The Best Cuisines in the World: Peruvian
Celebrated as one of the best cuisines in the world, Peruvian cuisine is as diverse as the nation’s extraordinary environment of desert dunes, the sprawling Amazon rainforest, Andean peaks, and the golden shores of the northern coast. From each of these different regions comes a wealth of local produce, and this is then showcased in regional dishes that have been passed down the generations. Indigenous traditions and local staples such as corn, potatoes – almost 4,000 potato varieties grow here – quinoa and beans are fused with the culinary influences of European, Asian and West African immigrants; the Spanish introduced rice, wheat and the meats they were accustomed to eating at home, while the Japanese cooks combined Peruvian ingredients with Japanese culinary traditions to create what is now known as Nikkei cuisine and celebrated across the world. As such, Peruvian cuisine has been noted as one of the world’s most important, acclaimed for its fusion dishes that reflect the nation’s multicultural history.
In recent years, Lima in particular has been considered one of the world’s great gastronomic capitals, with a series of restaurants garnering accolades and drawing in gastronomes from around the world. The chef, restaurateur and TV personality Gastón Acurio is one of Peru’s biggest names, and a proud ambassador of the nation’s cuisine. And he’s not the only top chef to take such a pride in the native ingredients and culinary traditions; Rafael Osterling draws on the country’s culinary heritage by fusing local ingredients with Italian, Spanish and Nikkei influences, while Virgilio Martinez creates his menus from a diversity of ingredients sourced from the rainforest, desert, mountains and sea. Pedro Miguel Schiaffino then places the focus on produce foraged from the Amazon and the unique traditions of Amazonian cuisine. Each of these top chefs showcases Peruvian cuisine at its very best, taking the nation’s signature fare and turning it into something even more extraordinary.
The Top Restaurants in Lima
Taking the top spot in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards for three consecutive years, and placed at number four in the World’s 50 Best, there’s no disputing the success of Central. With the husband and wife team, chef Virgilio Martínez and Pía León, behind it, the Miraflores restaurant places the focus on a spectrum of indigenous ingredients through a tasting menu of dishes such as a hot ceviche of langoustines and corvina fish, and suckling pig with black onion and sweet garlic.
Astrid y Gastón
Acclaimed chef Gastón Acurio oversees the kitchen of Astrid y Gastón, which is another restaurant to have a steadfast position in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. As one of the restaurants to have established this movement of showcasing Peruvian fare through contemporary plates, a meal here affords a true experience of Lima’s exciting gastronomy. The restaurant’s location within a grand hacienda of San Isidro elevates the dining experience even further.
The restaurant Rafael by esteemed chef Rafael Osterling is best known for showcasing the diversity of culinary heritage in Peru. Within an Art Deco townhouse in the Miraflores area, the restaurant serves up modern Peruvian-Italian dishes with Nikkei influences, including grilled octopus with pimento chimichurri, Kalamata olives and garlic confit. The chef has also garnered great acclaim for his Lima-based ceviche restaurant, El Mercado.
This fine dining restaurant in San Isidro gives guests the chance to taste Amazonian cuisine in the capital, in the form of contemporary dishes that have been created by chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. Here, rare Amazonian ingredients, tastes and textures, and Andean cooking techniques have been brought together in each of the menu’s exciting plates. Expect produce such as algae, roots, freshwater fish and wild fruits in dishes with international influence, from crunchy guinea pig and kimchi with native potatoes, to spicy braised oxtail with rice, black beans and fried plantains.
The Japanese-Peruvian fusion, Nikkei cuisine, is the focus here, with chef Mitsuharu Tsumura providing a 15-course Nikkei Experience tasting menu, incorporating dishes such as 50-hour wagyu beef short rib, and ceviche selva with river prawns. Having been born in Lima, the Japanese chef showcases the best of this fusion cuisine, which has been recognized by being placed in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.
The Best Cuisines in the World: Japanese
Along with Japan’s varied landscape of pristine mountains, lush countryside and long stretches of coast, from Hokkaido in the north to the southern islands of Okinawa, comes a great diversity of produce. Even within each city, local specialties abound with each place offering its own variations of classic Japanese plates. The country’s affluence of Michelin starred restaurants is testament to this culinary prestige, placing it among the best cuisines in the world. We took a look at the food of four cities in Japan, and the Michelin star restaurants to seek out within them.
Home to one of the world’s best known seafood auctions, Tsukiji Market, Tokyo is considered one of the country’s top regions for sushi. But this isn’t the city’s only signature fare. In the sumo wrestling district Ryōgoku, it’s the hearty hot pot stew Chanko nabe that draws diners in, while the Tsukishima neighborhood serves up monjayaki, a grilled pancake with shredded cabbage, meat and seafood.
Where to Eat
The three Michelin starred restaurant Kohaku gives traditional Japanese kaiseki plates an innovative twist, combining Japan’s celebrated produce and classic culinary techniques with non-native ingredients and plentiful creativity. Here, guests can expect to dine on dishes like beef shabu shabu with truffles and caviar. Again boasting three Michelin stars, Ishikawa has established itself as one of the city’s most sought after restaurants. Located behind Bishamonten Zenkokuji temple in Kagurazaka, the restaurant specializes in kaiseki plates that showcase the season’s ingredients.
Along with its exceptional richness of cultural sights and customs, Kyoto is revered for its culinary traditions and the intricacy of its cuisine, which displays a particular reverence for the seasons. While Kyoto is most commonly associated with kaiseki, Shojin Ryori – the refined vegetarian cuisine prepared by Buddhist monks – is also typical to the region.
Where to Eat
With an impressive 400-year history, Hyotei takes pride in its tea house origins, combining tradition with a forward-looking spirit. The restaurant serves up fine Kyoto cuisine, which has earned the eatery three Michelin stars, in a scenic tea house setting. Nakamura is another of the city’s stand-out eateries, which, with three Michelin stars, takes the traditional delicacies of Kyoto and creates exciting new dishes with them.
Celebrated countrywide for its lively restaurant and bar scene, Osaka is considered the boisterous sister to Tokyo. Casual meals such as takoyaki – balls of batter, with octopus, pickled ginger and green onion – and pancake-like okonomiyaki can be found citywide, along with the battered and deep-fried meat and vegetables, kushikatsu, and slices of meat and seafood cooked on a hot-plate, teppanyaki.
Where to Eat
Osaka’s three Michelin starred restaurant Koryu is an intimate eatery specializing in multi-course traditional Japanese fare that showcases the season’s premium ingredients. The three Michelin starred Fujiya 1935, meanwhile, is a family-run eatery that’s transitioned from a noodle shop to a fine dining restaurant focusing on Japanese and modern Spanish fusion plates.
Osaka is the city that’s most closely associated with okonomiyaki, but Hiroshima has its own version of this popular dish. Here, the batter is combined with sliced cabbage before being poured over a layer of noodles and cooked on a hot plate. This is often topped with oysters and squid, which are two of Hiroshima’s most celebrated ingredients; the local oysters are eaten raw, grilled or baked, and often served over rice.
Where to Eat
In Hiroshima, it’s worth seeking out the three Michelin starred restaurant Nakashima, which prepares kaiseki-style, multi-course meals, with a focus on fresh local ingredients. With this coastal city’s reputation for seafood, this produce is naturally what the restaurant places the greatest focus on.