Posts Tagged ‘Crayfish’

Zig Zag (Arequipa, Peru)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 by virginia

After our early morning start to see the condors at Colca Canyon, we were pretty tired by the time we got back to Arequipa, a four hour drive away. Our experience with altitude had left us feeling a bit sluggish and took away our appetites so I couldn’t stomach the thought of eating anything complicated. While the Peruvian food we had eaten so far was tasty, some of it was really rich, and there were a lot of spices and herbs mixed into the sauces. I was in the mood for something plain and simple, and Zig Zag fit the bill.

One of the couples in our Colca Canyon tour group had eaten there before and recommended it to us. They said that we would probably need reservations but we decided to chance it, arriving at the restaurant at an early hour for dinner. The restaurant was empty but every table had a little “Reserved” sign on it. Uh oh. However, because we were there so early, they told us they could accommodate us if we finished before a certain time, when the reservations were to be honored. Since that gave us an hour and a half to eat, we had no issues. We settled down to eat and they brought us a small dish of cheese and olives to start. The cheese was crumbly and salty, like feta.

Cheese and olives

The menu featured all different kind of meats, most of which were sold by the gram and simply prepared. We picked out three dishes to share, including an appetizer of three different tartares – trout, tuna, and salmon. All three with simply prepared with a little bit of olive and citrus. Each was topped with a sundried tomato that was intensely flavorful. The plate was garnished with cornichon, hearts of palm, capers, peppers, and a tiny quail egg. The fish was super fresh, and nicely cut into small cubes. The portions of each tartare were ample, and we enjoyed every bite.

Trout, tuna, and salmon tartare

While we were eating our tartares, they also brought us some small rolls of bread with herbed butter. The bread was soft and chewy and the butter was flavorful. They were fine to nibble on.

Roll with herbed butter

For the main part of our meal, they brought us paper bibs to wear. Yes, bibs. Our waitress told us they were “necessary”, and when our food came, we saw why. We had ordered a grilled platter that came with four different kinds of meat. The meat was served on hot volcanic stones and were sizzling hot. The juice from the meat was literally sputtering when the platter arrived, so the bibs protected our clothes. In reality, we probably didn’t need bibs but it was all in good fun. We found them amusing and wore them proudly. What astonished me most, however, was the amount of food we were brought.

When we ordered the assorted meat platter (which I actually thought came from the appetizer section), we told the waitress we would be sharing it. When the platter came, there were actually two sets of stone, each with its own set of four meats. It also came with a huge bowl of french fries that could have easily fed four people. I couldn’t believe this was one order, and I worried that the waitress had misunderstood us and had placed two orders instead. Turns out that wasn’t the case. It really was an order for one, and boy, that was a lot of food. The meats were marked with toothpicks so we could identify what each one was, and it came with ostrich, alpaca, beef, and lamb.

Huge platter of meat - ostrich, alpaca, beef, lamb

The meats were already cooked to perfection so we quickly removed them from the stones to prevent them from overcooking. They were very simply prepared, just a little seasoning and grilled on the stones. After all the rich foods we had eaten on our trip, it was a welcomed change. The alpaca was tender and tasted similar to veal or pork. The beef had actual beef flavor, and the lamb was nicely gamey. The only meat we didn’t like was the ostrich, which was tough and bland. We dipped the meats into the various bowls of sauce that included an ajo sauce (garlicky), tartar sauce, herbed butter sauce, and a spicy rocoto (pepper) sauce.

The fries that came with the meats were heavenly. They were super crispy on the outside, potato-y on the inside, and not greasy at all. They were seasoned with salt and that was it. I ate handfuls, even without ketchup, and enjoyed every one of them. I am an avid french fry eater and even I couldn’t get through all of it. We left half the bowl behind, and let me tell you, I was really tempted to ask them to pack it up for us.

Awesome french fries

We had been worried that the meats wouldn’t be enough food so we got a small order of camarones, or crayfish, which are an Arequipan specialty. The camarones also came sizzling hot on a volcanic stone. We were too busy eating all the meat first, however, so they did get a bit overcooked sitting on the hot stone. They were still really tasty though, fresh and flavorful.

Camarones on the hot volcanic stone

The camarones came with a choice of a side dish so we opted for fried yuca. They turned out to be breaded yuca croquettes, with a crisp exterior and creamy interior. They were really good but a little starchy, and we were beyond full at this point.

Fried yuca

The veggie action in our meal came from a side dish of ratatouille. To be perfectly honest, we really didn’t eat it because we were too busy stuffing our faces full of meat and carbs.


Josh and I had walked into the restaurant not feeling so hungry, and the amount of food we ended up ordering (by accident) was pretty hilarious. Our table was absolutely filled, and despite not having an appetite to begin with, we made a pretty good dent into everything.

So much food!

Overall we both absolutely loved Zig Zag. It was one of the best meals we had in all of Peru, even though it was one of simplest meals we had. The meats and camarones were all top notch and the presentation was pretty neat. The fried sides were all well prepared, and I couldn’t stop eating the french fries even after I was stuffed. The restaurant was empty when we arrived but by the time we left, it was packed and there was a line at the door. The vibe was upbeat but not stuffy, and it’s someplace that I wouldn’t have minded hanging out at the bar. Service was great and the prices were actually really reasonable. For all of our food, which included the trio of tartares, the assortment of meats, the camarones, all sides, plus a few Cusquena beers, the total was S/182 after tax and tip. That’s about US$67, which would be an absolute steal here in NYC. If you find yourself in Arequipa, run, don’t walk to Zig Zag! Reservations are definitely recommended.

Zig Zag Restaurant
Zela 210 – Cercado
Arequipa, Peru

Wayrana (Arequipa, Peru)

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by virginia

Wayrana was another restaurant that our guide recommended, and it was in our guidebook as well so we decided to give it a shot. We were a bit worried when we walked in and the only people eating in the restaurant was a large group of tourists, but the menu posted outside had looked promising, plus they offered the dishes that we had been hoping to try while we were in Arequipa.

We started out with a large bottle of Arequipena, which was not so different from Cusquena but we just liked that they also had a beer named after their city. Like most of the beer we had in Peru, it was pretty light and inoffensive.

Arequipena beer

There was one dish that our guide told us we had to try for lunch, chupe de camarones, but we couldn’t find it on the menu at Chi Cha. Looking back, I now realize we were idiots and looked under the wrong section of the menu. The dish is a soup, so we were looking under the appetizer/soup section, but it was actually under the huge section titled “Camarones.” Oh well. Even though our guide said that it was a dish that should be eaten for lunch because it’s a very heavy soup, we decided to take the chance and have it for dinner. Since neither of us were really very hungry, we decided to split an order of the chupe to start, and then split an entree to finish.

Chupe de camarones

Chupe de camarones is basically crayfish chowder. The soup is rich and creamy, made with lots of milk and cheese. It has a thick, velvety texture, and at times seemed more like a stew than a soup. There were lots of whole camarones, or crayfish, in the soup, as well as rice, corn, potatoes, and a poached egg. To make it even richer, the whole dish was topped with shredded cheese. Unfortunately I think there was some Andean mint mixed in there as well, which put me off a bit, but I pushed through because I really did enjoy the richness and the texture. The portion you see in the picture above is just half of a serving because when we told our waiter we were splitting, the kitchen thoughtfully plated our portions separately, which made things much easier.

Whole camarone (I enjoyed sucking out the heads!)

The kitchen also split our entree for us, which may not have been the best thing considering our entree was cuy, or guinea pig. My initial impression of the cuy can be found here. But basically, they cut that sucker in half from head to toe, giving us an inside look of the cuy’s innards, including its bony little rib cage and the contents of its little skull. The cuy was prepared Arequipan style, which meant that it was deep fried. That rendered the skin super crispy and tasty, but the meat was minimal and it was tough for me to really dig in and gnaw at the little bones. Seeing the head on the plate really did throw me off, but I think I would have really liked the dish if the cuy had been cut into little unidentifiable pieces.

Cuy in all its glory

Overall I was pretty impressed with the food at Wayrana, and service was definitely top notch. Even though I was initially turned off by the fact that the only people eating in the restaurant were tourists, my opinion definitely changed when I tasted the food. The chupe de camarones was really delicious, and the fact that I could eat it even with the Andean mint mixed in it is a testament to just how tasty the dish was. There were a lot of ingredients in there but everything worked together harmoniously. The cuy was also well prepared. It was basically just deep fried, but it was well seasoned and not greasy at all. I know most people are probably grossed out by the thought of eating guinea pig, but it really is similar to eating rabbit or quail. It’s definitely something worth trying, and hey, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it again. But at least give it a shot!

Calle Santa Catalina, 200, Int. B, Cercado
Arequipa, Peru