Known for tasty restaurants such as El Chile, Sapo and Alcomar, El Chile Restaurant Group announced the newest addition to their already outstanding restaurant family: Yuyo. It’s coming to East Austin this summer, but I was able to enjoy a advanced tasting of dishes that will be featured at this new Peruvian kitchen and Pisco bar.
What’s in a Name?
Peru is a country rich in not only culture–the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca are a few national treasures–but in cuisine. From ceviche to chocolate, this country has much to offer. It’s no wonder that El Chile Group wants to bring Peruvian cuisine to Austin.
The name of the restaurant, Yuyo, comes from the Quechuan word for seaweed. Why name a restaurant after seaweed? It’s not because Yuyo only features seafood, but because, in Peruvian fish markets, seaweed is used to indicate how alive and fresh seafood is–how recently it was caught. So think of Yuyo as a fresh and vibrant new restaurant.
Thanks to the culinary handiwork of Executive Chef Chris Camacho, I was able to try six small plates, plus dessert. The plates were paired with traditional Peruvian drinks that will be featured on the menu.
Part of attraction of this new restaurant will be the Pisco bar. The Pisco Sour is a traditional Peruvian drink made with Pisco, a liquor originating from the port city of Pisco, Peru. The drink is composed of Pisco, citrus, egg whites, simple syrup and bitters.
Don’t let the egg whites gross you out. I promise, this is one of the most refreshing drinks you’ll have all summer!
Did you know that Peru grows over 4,000 varieties of potatoes? The Mistura dish at Yuyo highlights several potato varieties, along with plantains, to dip into encurtido. Basically, this is the Peruvian take on one of Austin’s favorite dishes: chips and salsa. Simple and tasty!
Ceviche is considered the national dish of Peru, and Chef Camacho’s take on this timeless classic is outstanding. Rather than combining several varieties of fish, Yuyo focuses on lobster with a coconut, lime and mint sauce, topped with sweet potatoes.
I was astonished to think of 4,000 varieties of potatoes. But corn is just as important in Peru, and Yuyo’s maíz dish features nine preparations of the dietary staple, from sweet corn puree to popcorn dust.
This was one of my favorite dishes because it opened my mind to the diversity of texture in just one vegetable. This dish is also vegan-friendly!
Alitas displays the fusion of cultures within Peru. With a large immigrant population, several Peruvian dishes are heavily influenced from other cultures such as Chinese and Japanese. Chef Camacho takes these influences and presents chicken wings dressed with soy sauce and aji panca–a typical Peruvian spice–which makes for a delicious take on “hot wings.” Garnished with a quail egg, it brought back memories of my travels in Peru, where you can find quail eggs for sale on every street corner. The dish was also paired with a popular Peruvian beer, Cusquena Dorado Golden Lager.
Anticucho is another Peruvian dish influenced by immigrants to the country. This skewered take on street food highlights the aji panca spice once again, coating the perfectly cooked hanger steak, which melted in the mouth. It’s topped with a potato, for a reminder of that crop’s importance.
Due to my travels in Peru, I was really looking forward to the dessert course because Peruvian chocolate and coffee are my two weaknesses. The dessert at Yuyo featured both, along with an interesting use of avocado. Instead of using avocado for a savory dish, Yuyo transformed it into a subtly sweet dessert paired with botiga olives, dragon fruit and Amador chocolate. I loved the understated sweetness of this dessert.
As Austin grows, I’m happy to see the cuisine diversity expand, as well. I hope you’re looking forward to Yuyo opening in summer 2016 as much as I am.
Check yuyoatx.com for updates as the opening gets closer. No address announced yet.
@jpino9 wants to know:
Have you ever tried Peruvian cuisine?