With Vancouver’s food diversity we really do have the world at our doorstep but one country that is under represented is the cuisine of Peru and Central America in general. When I was asked to go for a visit to Silvestre Gusto Latino in Gastown to sample the menu for EatinginVancouver.ca I was exited and curious for what would be in store. The owner and his wife were there to greet me and answered any questions I had about the menu. I let them know of a couple of things that I don’t care for and intrusted the ordering to them, the portions I was served were a third of regular size and this was done of I could eat my face off and sample more of the menu!
So to start a series of hot pepper sauces were brought out and well as some homemade corn nuts or as they are traditionally known as-Cancha. The red/orange sauce was the hottest and the mildest was a combination of the medium sauce with some mayo. I did find the hottest sauce spicy but the other two were pretty mild and had more of yellow pepper flavor notes. Instead of having the typical North American beverages I tried a couple traditional beverages. The purple drink is called Chicha Morda, it’s made with boiled purple corn and it’s spiced with cinnamon and clove, the sweetness in the drink comes from pineapple and it’s something that kids to adults enjoy. The other drink I tried (pictured in the smaller glass) was called Chicha de Jora, it’s made from white corn but is fermented and alcoholic so it’s an adults only beverage. I enjoyed the purple chicha morda as it went with all the food during my meal, the chicia de jora didn’t work with my taste buds but it was nice to give it a try. Lastly the cancha was a nice treat, seasoned appropriately without being over done I munched on them throughout the evening.
The first appetizer out was Papa a la Huancaina. It consists of boiled potato with a yellow pepper and Parmesan cheese sauce over top with hard-boiled egg segments and black olive. This is a cold appetizer and was really enjoyable. the sauce was creamy and had a nice saltiness to it from the Parmesan cheese but the star of the plate was the potato. On the plate there was also pickled red onion and black olive while helped cut the richness.
Next up is a traditional civeche with lime. Silvestre has about 4 different variety’s of civeche on the menu but this is the grand daddy of them all. The civeche was nice and acidic and the fish was cooked for the perfect amount of time. Also in the dish were the toasted corn nuts along with boiled white corn that reminded me of peeled garlic cloves. This was overall an enjoyable dish and is something that I would order again but with maybe a few less red onions.
Lastly I had a potato salad called Salpicon de Camarones. The salad contains boiled potatoes, avocado, pea’s, celery and mayo along with the shrimp-it’s also available with chicken. I really enjoyed this and it was one of the favorites of the night for me. With all the ingredients the potatoes ended up being the focus of the dish with the mayo and avocado adding a nice richness.
With the Chinese influence in Peru getting this dish wasn’t a surprise. As it’s better known in Peru Arroz Chaufa de Camarones. Flavored with soy and oyster sauce along with nice big pieces of scrambled egg that was cooked in the Spanish torta style.
One of the lightest mains I had was the Pescado Su Dado. It’s a fish dish (basa in this case) that is stewed in a mix of peppers and tomato and is served with rice. Again this dish was a winner for me. The fish fillet was nice and thick while being still tender and moist from the cooking method.
Something that is sure to please and beef lover is the Lomo Saltado de Carne. Featuring thin sliced beef in a sauce that is pepper and onion based with a slight vinegar hit and served over fries with a side of rice. This was alright but the meat could have been slightly more tender but it didn’t stop me from cleaning the plate.
Next up was a fried Spicy Shrimp Empanada. The crust wasn’t overly greasy and had some flake to it and the filling was moist, full of shrimp and had a nice spice.
Another favorite dish I tried was the Aji de Gallina. The chicken was shredded and the sauce was really mild with a nice thickness to it. This was also served with boiled potato that was in the stew mix along with the side of rice so it’s a carb heavy dish. Overall this was another good dish that I would order again if I was looking for something to really fill me up for the day.
Lastly for the mains I was served Seco de Res Confrejoles. This is essentially stewing beef cooked in a cilantro sauce with red onions, peppers and peas. Being a cilantro sauce I was expecting it to be more pungent but the dish was very well-balanced. The beans on the side were alright and the rice was great to get all that sauce on the plate.
Silvestre has a large selection of locally made pastry’s and homemade gelato.
The gelato is made from a traditional Peruvian squash called Lucuma and to some it can taste like pumpkin while to others it tastes like butterscotch. For me it tasted like butterscotch and was very enjoyable and smooth without being overly sweet. The cookie is called an Alfajores, it’s basically a shortbread cookie with dulce de leche filling. Overall the cookie melted in my mouth like a great shortbread would and the filling wasn’t overly sweet so it worked with the sugar in the cookie perfectly. I also had a small piece of panettone which was a nice touch.
Overall I had a great selection of dishes at Silvestre Gusto Latino and it’s a place I would definitely come back to and recommend to friends looking for something different for dinner or lunch.
**Disclosure-Silvestre invited me for dinner and I was not charged for my meal but my opinions are completely my own.**