Located on 3rd Street, hidden out of sight from Broadway, is Eqeko, a new Peruvian tapas restaurant which eschews the old with the new. The building is definitely filled with history having been there for decades. The menu, is traditional but presented small plates style, going completely the opposite of how typical Peruvian dishes are usually served.
The restaurant has only been opened four months, and I am here with one of my favorite chef friends, a proud Peruvian, who introduced me to Peruvian dishes outside of lomo saltado and rotisserie chicken. I love dining with him because I learn so much every time we eat together.
Looking through the menu, I see many dishes I am familiar with, as well as some which are new to me. Since one of the best tiraditos I’ve ever eaten was prepared by my dining companion, I am eager to try the one here. Tiradito de Pescado ($7) possesses the perfect amount of tartness — and boy is it tart — to get my saliva moving. Seasonal raw fish is bathed in an aji amarillo sauce with ample lime juice. Topped with red onions, scallions and choclo (Peruvian corn), it is irresistible and hard to stop eating.
I’ve never had Ocopa ($7) before. Sliced potatoes are topped with a sauce made with aji amarillo, peanuts, shrimp, Andean huacatay and cheese. It is similar to that ubiquitous Peruvian “green sauce” everyone is familiar with, but with less of a kick — ask for the green sauce. It reminds me of papa a la huancaina (which is also on the menu) but with a green sauce instead of the orange. I think I prefer the ocopa more.
Choritos a la Chalaca ($6) is a cold dish of poached green lipped mussels on the half shell, topped with Peruvian salsa Chalaca which consists of tomatoes, red onions, cilantro and choclo. The mussels are plump and meaty. I love how fresh the dish is and the natural flavors of the mussels.
I am always interested in trying Empanadas ($6) because I have never found a perfect empanada outside of one made by someone’s mom or grandma. The ones here are superb. The exterior is thin and the filling is good. It is so important that the filling to wrapper ratio is proportionate, and here, they’ve done a really good job. I loved the sauce which accompanies comprising little bits of onions, sweet potato and scallions in a lime juice-based sauce.
Aji de Gallina ($7) is a shredded chicken dish I am well-familiar with. Usually served with rice, the walnut sauce is seasoned with aji amarillo and is definitely comfort food. The sauce is hearty but needed a touch more salt to bring out its flavors.
I will try them again in a few months. Hopefully there will be more menu items to choose from and a liquor license in place.