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If DonDoh were a horse, you’d say it had great breeding. The chefs behind this December opening in Lima are two of the most consistent innovators in South America’s greatest food city. Renzo Garibaldi’s Osso Carniceria went from a butcher shop to a full-fledged restaurant with a spot on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants List, and Ciro Watanabe’s series of Osaka restaurants are at the forefront of Nikkei cooking, that clever mash-up of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines that’s one of the best reasons to visit Peru. DonDoh takes ideas from both and creates something unlike either: A Northern Japanese barbecue restaurant that matches Peruvian staples like octopus and avocado to exquisite cuts of beef and Asian ingredients.
From a table in the dimly lit and ever-busy dining room, diners can watch the serious-faced cooks in the open kitchen hover over charcoal fires and stacked robata grills. On a recent visit, they sent out an appetizer of grilled avocado with a sous-vide egg in place of the pit. It oozed yolk on contact, the whole liberally dusted with chewy red peppers flavored with garlic, an unlikely combination that was the definition of umami. Meats are sourced by Garibaldi and are treated with care. The bife angosto, a cut similar to a New York Strip, had been marinated in sake for 30 to 40 days and had taken on the texture of ham. Smooth and full of flavor, its fibers somehow disappeared. (A bowl of oroshi sauce, ponzu, chilies and onions, accompanied it.) The octopus, which appears on many Lima menus in ceviche, here came charred and crispy at the ends and tender in the middle, drizzled with a garlic-miso sauce spiced up with togarashi—a nice nod to Watanabe’s Nikkei heritage.
This isn’t a restaurant that either chef needed to open—both have garnered plenty of respect already—but it’s one that Limeños and visitors alike will be glad they did.
Ave. Conquistadores 999, San Isidro, Lima; 51-1/421-2929; dondoh.com.