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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Number 39: La Mar's Cebiche Mixto

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 4:40 PM

click to enlarge La Mar's cebiche mixto, $12. - IANN IVY
  • Iann Ivy
  • La Mar's cebiche mixto, $12.

SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


San Francisco's first known Peruvian restaurant, Fonda Peruana, opened at the beginning of the Gold Rush, and 19th-century shipping routes between South America and San Francisco brought Peruvian pisco to our saloons, where the brandy was a popular spirit until Prohibition. So you could make a case -- a tenuous one, more poetic than provable -- that this city's adoration for cebiche is written on its cultural chromosomes. Our Peruvian restaurants are stronger, and more varied, than almost anywhere else in the country.

And while Gaston Acurio's La Mar Cebicheria Peruana serves elaborately reworked Peruvian dishes -- stir-fried quinoa, causas (a sort of mashed-potato terrine) with Dungeness crab and quail's eggs -- the restaurant's take on a classic cebiche mixto is the dish SFoodie orders with our Pisco Punch. Satin-bodied squid, fat shrimp, and cool swatches of yellowtail all wallow in a bath of lime juice and yellow aji chiles just long enough for their exteriors to flash opaque. There's a theory that Peruvian cebiche is Latin America's most refined because of the country's large Japanese community, and when you taste the seafood itself through its sharp marinade, you might be inclined to agree. 

La Mar's cebiche has all the requisite ingredients -- the slices of sweet potato, the starchy corn, the slivers of red onion -- all placed in proportion. Your fork seems to understand better than you just when the bite of the leche de tigre (marinade) grows too fierce, and the solace of sweet potato is needed, or when a short shock of raw onion or cilantro microgreens will keep you zeroed in on the dish. Even if the Forty-Niners were as fond of cebiche as we now are, it's hard to imagine they ate this well.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana: Pier 1.5, The Embarcadero, 397-8880,

Other favorites in this series:

40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.

41: Fifth Floor's burger

42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin

43: Iced coffee from Sightglass

44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre

45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine

46: Duck with beets from AQ

47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi

48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 

49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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