Mix and match
El Tumi—for several years Reno’s lone Peruvian restaurant—has recently transformed into Sabor Latin Cuisine, mixing flavors from the Andes with Argentinian and Mexican favorites, and a couple of burgers for good measure. After reviewing the new menu, a few friends and I knew we had to check it out.
We started with beverages native to Peru. Chicha morada ($3.50) is a deep purple soft drink made by boiling purple corn with pineapple peels, quince, cinnamon, clove and a little additional sugar. Invented in the early 20th century, the pisco sour ($10) is a mix of brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white and angostura bitters. We also tried a maracuya sour ($10), the same thing plus passion fruit juice.
Aji amarillo is a bright orange, fruity, hot pepper native to the Andean foothills, as are over 3,000 varieties of potato. Our first taste of both was papa a la huancaina ($7)—boiled yellow potato slices in a creamy sauce of aji amarillo, queso fresco and evaporated milk thickened with crushed crackers—served cold over lettuce leaves with boiled egg and black olive garnish. The chile flavor was subtle, and, with its light sweetness, this dish would be great as breakfast or dessert.
Empanadas followed ($8)—three crispy, shredded beef pastries we doused in a very flavorful chimichurri. Anticuchos ($12) was a dish of three grilled brochettes of sliced beef heart, marinated in garlic, vinegar and aji panca—the mild, red cousin to amarillo—served with sliced, lightly grilled peel-on brown potatoes and giant kernels of boiled Peruvian white corn. The organ meat was surprisingly tender and the seasoning bold. The corn was chewy and bland, yet we couldn’t stop munching it between beefy bites.
Causa is a traditional Peruvian cold potato layer cake, though the Sabor Causa ($14) was a step above, featuring two thick layers of mashed yellow potato mixed with aji amarillo and lemon juice, sandwiching a center layer of avocado, shrimp and mayonnaise.
Three separate seafood dishes comprised the Seafood Treasure ($20) starting with ceviche, raw fish cubes marinated in lemon juice, aji rocoto (a spicy Peruvian red chile), garlic, ginger and other seasonings, garnished with red onion in a large cup atop a thick slice of boiled sweet potato. The next was Jalea, lightly battered white fish, shrimp and squid with fried yuca, white corn kernels, and sides of salsa criolla and aji amarillo. Choritos rounded it out—steamed mussels topped with marinated tomato, onion, cilantro and lime juice. If that all sounds great, you’re right.
A trio of moist, breaded chicken milanesas ($16) were topped three ways: pico de gallo guacamole, ham and melted cheddar, and lettuce-tomato-onion-radish. They were served with potato fries and sides of hot salsa verde and salsa criolla—a mix of pickled onion, beet, aji rocoto and cilantro. The guac one was was my favorite, with the deconstructed cordon bleu right behind.
Our Parrillada Argentina ($40) well represented the popular Argentinian mixed grill, with skirt steak, red sausage, pork chop, chicken, orange and red bell pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, onion and asparagus, all grilled to perfection and served with fries. The split sausage was basically a very long bratwurst. The steak had a ton of caramelized garlic, and the pork and chicken had plenty of herbs and black pepper. It was an awesome finale to a fabulous meal.