A few blocks away from the touristy turnabout of Plaza Serrano in Palermo Soho, SIPAN, of the same well known downtown eatery, has added a second location in the Palermitano Hotel. Peruvian-Japanese mouthgasmic delights, a full sushi bar, a carefully chosen wine list, and top of the line cocktails including an impressive selection of pisco ideal for the perfect drunkeness, all make SIPAN a Buenos Aires classic for a reason.
Upscale Peruvian seems a bit oxymoronic to me, finding it difficult to drop a hefty amount of plata for a plate of ceviche when it tends to be half the price in a traditional Peruvian restaurant. But, apparently a lot of people consider SIPAN to be a pretty big deal, as it is known not only as one of the best Peruvian restaurants in Buenos Aires, but also won the Guia Oleo award “Revelación 2011″ for the best new restaurant in Buenos Aires of 2011. Given the constant rave reviews, it was time to check it out.
Here’s a history lesson for you (aka copied and pasted from Wikipedia): The restaurant is named after the famous Lord of Sipan’s tomb, dating back to 100AD, that was recently found intact at a Moche archaeological site in northern Peru and considered to be one of the most important (and stinky) discoveries in the last thirty years. Sipan’s decor is a reflection of the Moche’s adobe style construction and artwork, with a modern pop art spin reminiscent of a Mexican taqueria with the bright fluorescent color theme. The outdoor loungy patio should make some top ten list of the best outdoor eating areas in the city, while inside the loud graffiti-like art keeps customers visually stimulated (especially since it includes the word CHOTA, written in massive shiny bold letters, which is probably referring to the city in Peru, but I can’t stop giggling while thinking it means a less appropriate slang word).
Summertime is pretty much a synonym for wine-time, so despite the fact it was a Thursday afternoon, a boozy bottle of wine was absolutely necessary. Using the Entaste digital menu iPad application made it easy and oh-so-trendy-with-a-dash-of-pretentiousness to pick out the perfect wine. I corked into a Doña Paula Estate Sauvignon Blanc from Mendoza, Argentina like it was nobody’s business.
If there was an Olympics for day drinking, I probably wouldn’t win any medals, but at least honorable mention for weekday sloppiness. Taking tasting notes while intoxicated is pretty awesome and read something like this “Crispaay, fruitaay, limaay, grapefruitaay with peachay flaverzzz.” Who says writing tasting notes has to stay formal?
First thing to be dropped off at the table was a crunchy, bite sized bouche of deliciousness. A killer one-bite wonder, this wonton filled with tasty salmon was smothered in a sweet and savory passion fruit tamarind sauce – pure pleasure in just one bite. Next up, Tiradito Nikkei: thinly sliced white fish doused in nikkei sauce, a dressing made from oysters, sesame oil, soy sauce and lime. Sexual indeed with bright citrusay flavor accompanied the super-fresh fish quite nicely. Another house favorite is the Tiracuyá de salmón, thinly sliced piece of salmon in a passion fruit honey and dijon sauce, it’s seriously the absolute hotness in food form.
It’s a bit blasphemous to head to SIPAN without ordering a massive portion of ceviche. Despite the Asian invasion of flavors prominent on the menu, it still is a cevicheria specializing in insanely well made ceviche. I mean just look at those plump pieces of heaven. The Ceviche Mixto contains fresh octopus, white fish, huge chunks of salmon and clams, all showered in some special sauce, poured table side. In fact, all the sauces are poured by the mozo right at the table – talk about being serviced.
The menu also includes about four different types of sushi rolls, each with a different Peruvian spin. The first roll that stood out on the menu had ají de gallina incorporated in some way, a super interesting way to fuse the two cuisines. Just my luck that the shipment of ají didn’t make it to Buenos Aires this week due to the heat (#TIA), so no ají de gallina at all. Plan B: the Roll Costa Verde. The roll was filled with a salmon tartare, a dash of sesame oil, lettuce and avocado wrapped with thin slices of salmon marinated in salsa nikkei, and I mostly chose it because it did not include the infamous Buenos Aires sushi no-no of philadelphia cream cheese. While pretty good, I still wish that damn shipment didn’t F me over, since mixing the creamy and spicy flavors of ají de gallina in a sushi roll is bordering on genius.
Bottom line: Sipan deserves all the hype. While it may be more expensive than other standard Peruvian restaurants in Buenos Aires, the interesting flavors of Peru-Japo fornication, extremely high quality fish and bomb-licking cocktails and wine bring it up to the major leagues.
Sipan Cevicheria Peruana
The Palermitano Hotel
Uriarte 1649, Palermo Soho
Monday – Sunday: 12pm – 4pm, 8pm – 1am
Average price per person: AR$220