As the name suggests, Totora is a Peruvian cebicheria, and they claim to specialize in ceviche. I love ceviche, so when I was invited there, I clicked my heels with joy and prepared myself for post-meal snow-angels. Perhaps my expectations were too high, and that’s why I ended up coming home a tiny bit disappointed though, and I know it’s not entirely a logical comparison but I was hoping for the experience to be at least as equally impressive as the ones I had at Asia De Cuba , La Tablita and/or Poco Loco – the common factor being that they’re all serving up some form of Latin American cuisine. Sadly, I was underwhelmed.
With turquoise and lime green interiors, this cebicheria fits right into DIFC with it’s modern chic interiors but promises a taste of Peruvian street food. Peru is close to the ocean so they have an ample supply of fish, and hence ceviche. For a restaurant that boasts the status of a cevicheria, the first let down occurred when I saw less ceviche items on the menu than I had expected to see on the menu.
Our very experienced and professional server, Rafaelo, was commissioned from the U.S just to help set up Totora here and train the staff. He’s originally from Peru, all American now, but very much in touch with his culinary roots. On his recommendation, we tried the following items:
Cebiche di Barrio: Fantastically delicious. This was spicy, citrusy, savory, meaty, rich, crunchy, and soft all in one. The layers of flavors and textures was phenomenal. I loved that the octopus in this was tender and the crunch from the chulpi corn was addictive. This ceviche was marinated in a sauce called Leche de Tigre, which is a blend of 10 different ingredients. The ceviche sauce is Rocoto pepper based and you have to try it to understand how umami it was. This was an ideal appetizer for summer!
I wanted a taste of the Japanese influence on Peruvian cuisine, so I tried the above pictures Roll Acebichado, and while it was nice, barring the sauce there was nothing special about it that stood out.
The Beef Empanadas, which contained beef marinated in aji panka, sauteed onions and garlic were surprisingly not too flavorful. Even with a squeeze of lime, they didn’t pack a lot of oomph.
This lamb is braised for 36 hours, and served with Seco de Cordero sauce on a bed of squash and a side of plantain chips. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. This was easily one of the most bland and unimpressive entrees I’ve had anywhere.
I loved the rice side dish. The corn in this rice comes straight from Peru and these kernals were bigger than any corn kernel you could imagine- and sweeter and more fragrant too!
The dessert was simply sublime. With chunks of cinnamon cake and gooseberry sorbet, this was the most stand-out plate that made it to our table that day.
If you’d like to try out Totora Cebicheria Peruana for yourself, you can make a reservation on 04 3999666.