Telephone (21) 2225 7653
On a bustling little road of bars, cafés and bike shops leading to Flamengo beach, Intihuasi has been celebrating the cuisine of its owners' native Peru since opening 2004. Apparently bursting into fashion in 2013 with the arrival of Jardim Botânico's La Carioca Cevicheria, it is reassuring that the old adage 'original is best' once more rings true.
Intihuasi's menu reaches far beyond the exquisite, lime-seasoned fresh fish (and the ingenious half-fork, half-spoon utensil) for which it has become famous far beyond the neighbourhood, however. In the simple confines of this bright orange restaurant, seafood may reign supreme, but earthy meat dishes are well worth a look, like the traditional Pachamanca a La Olla (R$79) of lamb, pork and chicken, slow cooked together (although not so authentically that it is done so under the ground) with sweet potato, corn, broad beans, manioc and tamalitos (small, maize tamales), comfortably serving two people.
The pisco sours (R$18) refresh the head whilst firing the soul, combining lime and egg whites with the Peruvian national firewater to make a delicate change from the all-pervading caipirinhas. The margarita version beats pretty much every other 'genuine' salty Mexican gum-revealer in town into submission, while the house speciality, made from squashed kumquat, offers up an unlikely tropical twist.
Altogether stronger flavours come in the form of a supremely rich parihuela, the Peruvian seafood bouillibaisse with clams, mussels and shrimp lurking in a deep, dark soup that deserves a place among the best dishes in the city; not quite a starter, not quite a main, but along with a mixed ceviche platter of scallops, squid, octopus, white fish and cooked shrimp, it provides a satisfyingly different slice of Latin American flavour. Just don't forget to add a dab of the bright pink chilli sauce to the raw fish, it is the stuff of the gods themselves, and all best followed by the large shot glass of Mazamorra Morada dessert, made from creamed purple corn and dried fruit with a dusting of cinnamon.
22 May 2013.