Chez Wong LimaPosted By Jennifer Ho Jul 29 2015 · 0 comments · Dining Out
After just under two food happy weeks in Peru, we’re back in Montreal and still dreaming about all the incredible things we ate during our first foray into South American territory. Lima is of course, known as the culinary capital of the continent – we couldn’t have picked a better place to kickstart our adventure !
One of our first and most anticipated stops was Chez Wong, run by the legendary King of Ceviche, Javier Wong. Of Chinese-Peruvian decent, the man has a distinct style. Classic, you might say. Never known to be without his famous white chef’s coat and white beret, you can spot him all over the restaurant in various framed snapshots shaking hands and accepting awards. Notably, he has been recognized as a major player in furthering Peruvian cuisine – Chez Wong has been commemorated as a Lima institution the industry would not be the same without.
The entry is discreet. There is no sign. Having started from Wong’s garage and eventually expanding into his living room, the layout and interior vibe makes sense once you realize the restaurant is actually his home. Ring the doorbell and wait for one of the two servers inside to answer and let you in.
There was only one seating at 1PM. We showed up a few minutes early and were let in by one of the residents in the building who saw us staring at the door, unsure what to do. She was super friendly and talkative, and though we couldn’t communicate (no habla espagnol) she was sweet enough to let us in and point us to Wong’s doorstep. We stepped in and noticed only one other party had arrived. They had cracked open a bottle of wine to pass the time while they waited for the tables to fill up.
After finishing one of the local beers, we decided to do the same. A Chilean white wine was suggested – I won’t lie, I have no idea what the wine was, but it was the only choice and we had to get the full bottle (no half bottles or cups). When in Lima, right? It was fruity and went well with the meal.
..the minute Javier walked into the room, there was an immediate change in the atmosphere of the restaurant.
I have to say that the minute Javier walked into the room, there was an immediate change in the atmosphere of the restaurant. At this point, several larger groups of Peruvian families had arrived. They immediately jumped up, smiling ear to ear, clearly excited, heading straight to his workstation to make conversation and take a few photos of him in action.
Wong was great. He posed for photos, bantered with the guests and later on after the meal even walked to each table, shaking hands, pounding fists and hamming it up. It was lovely.
Tastes were sharp and clear, pronounced, unlike any other ceviche we've had before.
Note there’s no menu. The meal typically starts off with a ceviche, a tiradito and a dish fried in the wok.
Our meal was structured in the exact same way. We watched as Wong expertly prepared the ceviche, cleaning, butchering and preparing the fish in measured, precise movements that demonstrated his experience and mastery with the knife. He added the flounder to a large mixing bowl plus octopus, red onions, liberal amounts of salt and pepper and lime juice.
Our ceviche arrived shortly after, and it was heavenly. Simple, powerful, tasty, freaking amazing. Sprinkle that shit with some hot peppers and you are on fire!
We had originally planned only on having one plate of ceviche, but who were we kidding… After wolfing the first down in minutes, we had to order another. Tastes were sharp and clear, pronounced, unlike any other ceviche we’ve had before.
The flounder tiradito came next. Sashimi style thin cuts of fish paired with zucchini and pecans on top. More delicate than the ceviche but equally delicious.
Our reco is that you make a reservation well in advance – this place is buzzing. Email Javier and request your date and table to ensure your spot as the 10 table restaurant has a strict bookings only policy. Show up unannounced and you’ll almost 100% be turned away, even if there are empty spots. Word of caution so you can enjoy proper! If you’re in Lima, eating at Javier Wong’s is a must.