Taking over from the former Peruvian restaurant, Aguaymanto Grill, in Chantilly several years ago, the owners have turned this into a buzzing, super-busy destination called Peru 703. On a recent Saturday night, a big, happy family celebration — a birthday, perhaps — took over many of the tables. Everyone was eating and chatting happily. And likely they were Peruvians who totally understood their native cuisine.
For non-Peruvians, getting a handle on some of the dishes may be a bit of a challenge. Even for devout foodies who love to explore foreign dishes, some may grapple with wondering: what is papa rellena (crispy meat-stuffed potato patty), picante de camarones (stir-fried shrimp in a creamy sauce served over rice), and tacu tacu, a dish of rice and beans with a choice of meat topping. Hint: Come with Latino friends who understand the cuisine.
But once foodies learn about Peruvian eats, their taste buds will explode. Perhaps the best way to start a Peruvian meal is with that potato appetizer, papa rellena with the salsa criolla topping. It is actually mashed potatoes formed into a ball, or patty, stuffed with flavored meat, and topped with a crunchy bread crumb coating. One order might be enough for two people, but the best bet is to order one per person.
Another must-have dish, either as an appetizer or part of the entrée selection, is at least one order of ceviche. Made from technically raw fish that has been “cooked” in a lime juice marinade, a ceviche serving may call for shrimp, white fish, calamari, or possibly mussels. The chef puts out a straightforward dish with one fish selection, or he plays around with the idea and mixes them with different seasonings and combinations. For newcomers to the idea of eating raw fish, probably the best idea is to stick with the plain offering.
Then the chef puts out an appealing number of entrées, ranging from the Peruvian special, a roast chicken platter, to assorted seafood, beef, and chicken main dishes. There’s also a House Favorites section in which patrons can order the special “chaufa world,” a recipe that combines Chinese and Peruvian flavors with Peruvian-style fried rice, and a choice of meat toppings — even including hot dogs; and Mar y Tierra platters that pair grilled shrimp with fries, jasmine rice, and strip steaks.
For folks looking for something less robust, the kitchen does create two difference subs and two different burritos. However, these are only available from Tuesday to Friday. But patrons can pick one of the entrée-sized soups instead. Very typical and very good is their chupe de camarones, a chowder field with shrimp, jasmine rice, and a fried egg.
As the meal winds down, patrons may dream of something sweet. But usual sweet choices are limited to just a few goodies: flan (custard), tres leches cake, and ice cream. And as the meal wraps up, chances are that all folks are delighted with the service, the food, and the ambiance.
Peru 703 Peruvian Fusion & Pisco Bar, 5005 Westone Plaza, Suite D, Chantilly, 703-657-3249. Hours: Tuesdays.-Fridays, 11 a.m to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.