Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Channeling my Peruvian Side at El Anzuelo Fino

Last night was one of those fun Queens food explorations, as Meg and I headed to Jackson Heights for Peruvian cuisine.  Visiting a restaurant called El Anzuelo Fino, which specializes in seafood, we sure got our fix of it, as well as a sampling of other regional Peruvian specialties.

Being the third outpost of the original restaurant, which opened back in Peru, its Jackson Heights location sits on the busy Northern Blvd and 86th street.  Sure it's a bit of a hike from the 7 train, but if you appreciate scenic routes (aka 86th street), the walk is really pleasant and you get to enjoy a view of the beautiful, historic houses found in this neighborhood.

The restaurant itself is pretty casual and sits about 30 in the main dining room.  We noticed a large back room with additional seating, but I think this is mainly used for private parties.  Meg and I got comfortable at our table and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and the beautiful Latin music that further helped set the scene.  I had a view of the kitchen from where I was sitting, which was nice to observe, and you can rest assured that your dishes are being prepared fresh.

Getting to sample a little bit of everything, including seafood and meat dishes, our overall experience was really diverse and interesting.  My tastebuds experienced a bevy of vibrant flavors that ranged from sour and citrusy to savory and comforting.

Ceviche de Corvina - One of the first things we tried was the ceviche, which stood out as a big highlight.  The main ingredient was corvina fish, which is pretty similar to sea bass, and therefore nice and light.  The marinade was definitely punchy and kicked things up a notch with its lime, zesty flavor.  Accompanied by a sweet potato, slivers of red onion and chunky Peruvian corn, it was a simple yet sophisticated dish that served as a good preview for things to come.

Anticuchos con Papa - Juxtaposing the seafood app with a meaty one, this one was just as delicious, and definitely fit for adventurous palates.  Anticuchos are beef hearts, which came in the form of three thin pieces that were skewered on a stick.  Accompanied by a simple potato and choclo corn, Chef Boris let the main ingredient shine.  I liked the taste of the meat very much, and it reminded me a little bit of the texture found in a good quality beef liver.

Pulpo al Olivo - Another one of my stand-out dishes of the night, this was made up of thin slices of octopus, poured over by a silky black olive sauce.  I've never had anything like this, and found the sauce both flavorful and pleasing in texture.  A bed of crunchy lettuce provided nice differentiation and a certain freshness.  The buttery avocado slices that were served on each side of the octopus further tied the dish together and gave it that Latin flavor.

Corvina al Anzuelo Fino - Our first official entree was a total hit, consisting of Corvina fish, once again, and a variety of other seafood such as shrimp and squid.  Especially excited to see the squid, I dug right in and enjoyed the delicious house creamy sauce, which made everything taste vibrant.  The Corvina shined here too, as it was flaky and perfectly cooked.

Lomo Salteado - Meg talked about this dish ever since we came in, so I was glad that we got to experience El Anzuelo's version.  Made up of bite sized pieces of sirloin, grilled onions, tomatoes and french fries, it was a hodgepodge of delight.  The beef was cooked nicely, and I especially loved the tangy sauce that served as the binder. Nothing like a Peruvian take on steak frites!

Chicha Morada - Once again, something totally new to me, chicha was introduced as a fermented drink made out of purple corn.  It's a sweet drink and looks similar to sangria, although it's a lot sweeter and cinnamoney too.  Loving the little pieces of apples that were added to the top, it was a yummy way to wash down all that Peruvian goodness.

Service and Cost:Just like its laid back, casual vibe, the service reflected this as well.  Meg and I felt comfortable and well taken care of, and appreciated the hospitality extended to us by Chef and owner, Boris Torres.  We were excited to learn about Chef Boris' deeply seated roots in this restaurant, which was started by his parents to carry on the traditions of their native country.  Since there's tons of things on the menu, don't be shy to ask the gracious staff for their recommendations, as they know their stuff.

Prices are inexpensive to moderate and include:
Appetizers - $5 - $15
Meat - $6 - $24

Seafood - $12 - $36
Combo Plates - $15 - $20

3 Mmmms

El Anzuelo Fino - 86-01 Northern Blvd, Jackson Heights NY 11372
7 Train to 82nd Street/Jackson Heights

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