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Totora Cebicheria Peruana: A Taste of Peru in Dubai

As the name of the restaurant suggests, Totora is a Peruvian cebicheria, specializing in ceviche and promises a taste of Peruvian food. I am a noob when it comes to Peruvian cuisine as I haven't tried a single dish yet, so I gladly obliged when I received an invite as I was also curious about what Peruvian dishes are like.

Located at Gate Village 7 in DIFC, Totora fits right into DIFC's chic scene. This wooden hanging bridge led us to the modern chic restaurant, with turquoise and lime green interiors and hidden lights adding a refreshing vibe and a great contrast to the earthy fixtures.

Totora Cebicheria Peruana

Totora Cebicheria Peruana

Being not well-versed with Peruvian cuisine, I already came prepared with just having whatever the server would recommend, until I saw a set menu that's already prepared for us. Apparently, it's a private dinner for Zomato bloggers which should be at 7pm, but they accommodated my request of having it at a later time since my schedule won't permit.

Totora Cebicheria Peruana

Totora Cebicheria Peruana

Our Peruvian feast started with Pisco Sour, a traditional cocktail of Peru made with Pisco (a Peruvian brandy), mixed with egg whites, lime juice, and bitters. It has a sweet and tangy start with a slightly bitter alcoholic kick as it goes down the throat.

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour - AED 55
With ceviche being Totora's main offerings, we were served with not one but three ceviche plates.

This Peruvian specialty may be unique as a whole, but the ingredients are very much familiar. A dish of raw fish cured in lime juice and spiced with Peruvian chili, the ceviche is just like our very own kinilaw or kilawin.

Cebiche Nikkei
Cebiche Nikkei - AED 50
With octopus, sea bass, boiled cassava, chulpi corn, rocoto sauce, and leche de tigre, the Cebiche de Bario was spicy, citrus-y, savory, meaty, rich, crunchy, and soft all in one. The layers of flavors and textures were unparalleled. I loved that the octopus was tender and the crunch from the chulpi corn added a play of texture that was nothing short of addictive. This ceviche was marinated in a sauce called Rocoto Leche de Tigre, which is pepper based. The fresh onions also added a little zing. Fantastically delicious, I must say! My favorite among the three!

Cebiche de Bario
Cebiche de Bario - AED 65
Cebiche Champinones is a vegetarian ceviche with mushrooms (button, erynggi, and enoki) as the main ingredients, soaked in lime juice and topped with inka corn and coriander. It was okay, but apart from the mostly citrus-y taste, I found this one a little bland. I don't know if it was just me, but I didn't quite like how the texture was mostly on the soft side. I guess this will be a hit for mushroom lovers though.

Cebiche Champinones
Cebiche Champinones - AED 45
Our server specifically instructed us to eat Cebiche Nikkei last as its strong flavors might overpower the other two dishes. With fresh raw tuna, avocado, and nikkei soya sauce, plus some red onions and nori strips, I was anticipating a piquant taste, but it was actually just right and wasn't overpowering at all. While I was raving about Cebiche de Barrio, Mark was sold with this one.

Although of Japanese descent, sushi rolls are also part of the Peruvian cuisine. Encapsulated in traditional Japanese sushi rice are red snapper and avocado. What made the Quinoa Roll distinct is the quinoa replacing the usual tobiko and the rocoto sauce which is pepper-based instead of soy sauce and wasabi. This one's a winner.

Quinoa Roll
Quinoa Roll - AED 75
Empanadas de Carne is just like the usual meat empanada which contains beef marinated in aji panka and chimichurri sauce, with onions and garlic. You'll have to break it in half and squeeze lime into the filling. This one has nothing special, I've actually tasted better versions back home. My dad can even roll up an even tastier one out of left over meat. :p

Empanadas de Carne
Empanadas de Carne - AED 30
Anticuchos de Pollo is a traditional Peruvian grilled chicken skewers with house aji sauce. It looked appetizing and I was excited to try it, by it fell short of my expectations when I sank my teeth onto the half-cooked (some even pinkish raw) chicken chunks. Mark and I have sensitive stomachs so we didn't risk consuming this one. It was a total let down. :(

Anticuchos de Pollo
Anticuchos de Pollo - AED 40
A selection of traditional Peruvian dishes were also served. The Seco de Cordero's aroma was so inviting when it was served. The chico de jora braised lamb leg with aji panca (chili pepper) and aji amarillo (capsicum) lay on a bed of chifle Peruvian squash mash with plantain chips alongside. Looks and sounds delicious, right? Unfortunately it stopped at being just that. The lamb was fork tender yes, but it was a little bland and also has that I-cannot-explain-aftertaste which made it a bit off. I also found the squash too sweet it just didn't go well with the lamb. The dish also revolved around a soft and mushy texture which kind of felt weird on the mouth. An added texture and flavors would probably balance it out.

Seco de Cordero
Seco de Cordero - AED 80
The Quinotto, coined from quinoa and risotto, is basically white quinoa with Portobello mushrooms and aji amarillo (capsicum) cooked in white whine, with black truffle oil and Parmesan cheese. The quinoa had that perfect texture and I loved how that distinct truffle taste and smell were evident. The Parmesan cheese was a nice addition too.

Quinotto - AED 95
I drooled when Arroz con Pato was served. The duck had a crispy crust (which I liked) but with still pinkish core. It's just a personal preference but I would have loved if it was cooked through. The duck skin was crisp and that layer of fat just beneath it was divine. It somehow felt like eating Bagnet or Lechon Kawali (fried pork dish in the Philippines). The dish would have been perfect if the rice wasn't too intense. The flavors were too rich it was overpowering and a little on the salty side. What I did was to pair the duck with Quinotto and it worked just right.

Arroz con Pato
Arroz con Pato - AED 95
And of course, our Peruvian feast won't be complete without desserts. We had Clasico Peruano and Tres Leches which were both outstanding.

The Tres Leches was made of a sponge cake on a pool of condensed and evaporated milk, topped with whipping cream and berries. This has got to be the best Tres Leches that I have tried. I loved how the milk was poured just right when the dessert was served, making the sponge cake not soggy. It had the right amount of sweetness (it actually tasted like leche flan) and the berries added a little sour kick.

Tres Leches
Tres Leches - AED 45
The Clasico Peruano was enticing. It's a purple corn sorbet on a bed of classic rice pudding drizzled with fig crumble. The milky rice pudding added contrast to the mildly sweet and sour taste of the sorbet. I enjoyed scooping the sorbet and fig crumble using that crispy crepe like thingy. This one is a must-try!

Clasico Peruano
Clasico Peruano - AED 45
While the upper part is for the diners, in the lower ground sits a posh bar with a wide variety of wines and spirits. Perfect for a chill night out with friends.

Totora Cebicheria Peruana

Overall dining experience was fun. Peruvian cuisine is not that hard to love as it has a lot of resemblance to Filipino cuisine. Ambience was superb and service was commendable—the staff was well-versed and serving time is fast—but if we factor in the quality and taste of the dishes, especially the mains and appetizers, I don't think I'd be willing to shell out some bucks.

TOTORA CEBICHERIA PERUANATotora Cebicheria Peruana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Gate Village 7, DIFC
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 (0)4 399 9666

We were guests at Totora and our meal was complimentary, but as always, this post is sincerely written and all views and opinions are my own.

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