A friend of mine owns a cevicheria in Surquillo called S’Concha. It opened months ago but I was just able to check it out recently after a week of excessive turkey consumption (post- Thanksgiving). Here in Lima the cevicherias are a-plenty. There’s no shortage of them, but not all are good quality. I consider eating ceviche an experience which is usually positive if the ingredients are fresh, it’s not over-salted, the vibe of the establishment is fun and welcoming, and the beer they have on the menu is endless. No ceviche is complete without a cold bottle of Pilsen on the side (MSG makes you hella thirsty).
As soon as I walked into S’Concha I could tell it would be an interesting afternoon. I approached the owner and he got us a table close to the tv as the NFL games were on and I had a fantasy lineup to keep track of. I immediately noticed huge paintings on the walls -one of Miguel Grau and one of José Olaya - two Peruvian heroes. As I entered I was greeted with a painting of a scroll with text on top featuring an explanation of what S’Concha, the restaurant, stands for along with a quote of Olaya’s. It reads: Este restaurant es un homenaje a toda esa gente brava, esos que se rompen el lomo por los suyos. Si mil vidas tuviera, gustoso los daría por mi patria. The introduction text means “This restaurant is a tribute to all the tough people, those who work like a dog for their own” and the Olaya quote underneath says “If I had a thousand lives, I’d gladly give them all for my country.”
Olaya was an Afro-Peruvian independence hero who fought for Peruvian independence. He helped transport secret messages by swimming between the government in Callao and the independence fighters stationed in Lima. Olaya and Grau, according to S’Concha, are a huge example of “gente brava” or brave/tough people that inspired his restaurant. He wants the Peruvian people to always remember those strong leaders who changed history.
AND ON TO THE FOOD…. we started off with some causa, a cold starter dish which is made of mashed potato usually stuffed with tuna or shrimp and topped with avocado. To be honest, Peruvian gastronomy has evolved so much that you never know what your causa will come out looking like. This one was no exception - it was smaller than the normal causa I’m served but pleasantly delicious.
The ceviche we ordered next met all of my expectations - the fish was fresh, the leche de tigre wasn’t overloaded with MSG, there was the perfect amount of corn and sweet potato -the key ingredient to balancing your palate from the fresh aji that’s found in the leche de tigre. Ceviche should always be at least a bit spicy, y’all. And as a bonus, the ceviche de barriada comes with chicharrones de huevera de pescado (fried fish balls). The perfect extra that’s best eaten by dipping into the leche de tigre and eating once soaked in all its glory.
Somehow my friend and I weren’t stuffed and this was before I started my “eat until you’re full” method of life so we decided to order one more dish. This time we opted for a plate called Jaleón - literally an entire fish (fried) stuffed and topped with more fried fish and yuca. This may have been a bit of an over kill but it was delicious nonetheless.
This is definitely my new spot in Surquillo, a district that is known for being unsafe and left behind in the development department. This restaurant is proof that Surquillo has life and is on the come up not only food-wise but as a neighborhood as a whole. Surquillo has soul and if you’re craving a mouth watering ceviche from a local huarique (hole in the wall) I highly recommend S’Concha.
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