Auténtico Sabor Peruano: Ceviche CentralPosted: January 27, 2012
704 Park St, Hartford
Open for lunch and early dinner daily.
For over 15 years, the most popular restaurant in El Mercado (Hartford’s Latino marketplace and mini-mall) was Cuchilandia, a vibrant establishment that purveyed a huge array of traditional dishes from Puerto Rico. Then the place shut down; a vacant outpost sandwiched between the Colombian place, Antojitos Colombianos, and the Dominican food stall, El Gran Dominicano, which is, in turn, next to the Mexican restaurant, El Tepeyac. Gaspar will soon opine about those fine establishments, however the exciting news is that there’s a new culinary player at El Mercado: Auténtico Sabor Peruano. The name of the restaurant means “Authentic Peruvian Taste” in Spanish.
Auténtico Sabor Peruano implemented few changes to its predecessor’s dingy counter and fluorescent-lit steam table. However, “ASP” prepares most of its dishes to order, in the kitchen, so there’s not much to look at up front. And the seating arrangement is the same; tables shared with the other food counters and stalls. However, neither Gaspar nor anyone else comes to El Mercado for the décor. It’s all about the food. And ASP prepares, quite simply, the most exquisite ceviche available in the Hartford area! Sure, Hartford has a big Peruvian community – so much so there’s even a Peruvian consulate which is remarkable for such a small city. And there are great Peruvian restaurants like Piolin and Cora Cora, both on New Britain Ave.
But the mixed ceviche at ASP is so good that Gaspar has not been able to bring himself to try anything else yet, even after four visits! The squid, fish and mussels are ultra-fresh and buttery-tender. The balance of lemon marinade, salt and spice is just right – not overpowering; unlike those “overcooked” ceviches where the raw seafood is pickled to the core and tough. If you ask for your ceviche spicy, you will get it spicy. Plus, it’s gorgeous, a lavish sprig of fresh and delicious crunchy seaweed serving as a garnish. Gaspar presumes the other dishes as ASP are as good, but cannot yet personally vouch for them as the ceviche is so addictive. If he can ever get himself to order anything else, he will report back in this forum!