If you don’t know what to order at Terras Ceviche, don’t worry.
Your fellow customers will surely help you.
When we asked our waitress about the finer points of the various sauces at this casual Peruvian restaurant, she felt she couldn’t do them justice. So she tapped a lady at a nearby table, who was Peruvian and a regular at Terras Ceviche. Go with the Leche de Tigre, she advised. It’s got a nice kick.
We were deep into the platter of Ceviche Pescado—pieces of fish marinated in lime and bathed in that delicious, milky Leche de Tigre—when another Spanish-speaking customer called over to us. Did we like it? And had we also ordered Chicha morada?
We then discovered Chicha morada, a drink made from purple corn, flavored with pineapple and cinnamon. It was the color of amethysts. Sweet, yet refreshing. Thanks for the recommendation!
Terras Ceviche appears to be the kind of neighborhood spot where the regulars feel they have a stake in the place. The staff does not mind if you swap your unopened, ordinary Coke for a bottle of bright-yellow Inka Cola. Go ahead, you’re told, as you’re guided to the refrigerator, help yourself.
The storefront eatery is decorated with paper soccer balls and streamers in the red and white colors of the Peruvian flag. Framed photographs of mountains and the countryside hang on the wall. A large-screen TV shows a concert, with musicians in suits performing on a plaza while grandmotherly women dance and nod approvingly.
Nibble on cancha, a snack of roasted, salted Peruvian corn, while you look at the menu.
Seafood is everywhere and, as you might expect. There is an entire section devoted to ceviche that you can order with just the pescado or mixed with mussels, shrimp and scallops, and enjoy it with Leche de Tigre, Yellow Pepper or Rocoto Pepper sauces, in mild or spicy.
Each variation is served with pickled onions, a slab of sweet potato, more cancha and boiled Peruvian corn, with kernels the size of dimes.
On a chilly day, consider one of the entrée-sized soups. Meaty, sautéed shrimp float in a big bowl of Chupe de Camarones, a chowder with a delicate broth of milk and shrimp stock, loaded with peas, rice, potato and poached egg. This, the menu tells us, is the most famous soup in Arequipa, Peru’s second-largest city, after Lima. Hearty, but still fresh, its celebrity is justified.
A tender flounder fillet stood up to a flavorful sauce in the dish known as Pescado a la Chorrillana. In Chile, “chorrillana” is a diner-like dish with eggs, beef and french fries. But in Peru, chorrillana refers to a sweet, red-pepper sauce that accompanies fish.
At Terras Ceviche, the red pepper reduction is emboldened by lime and Aji Amarilllo Panca, a pepper puree used in many Peruvian dishes. The fish was served with white rice and broiled potatoes—the better to sop up the sauce with—and snappy sautéed onions and peppers.
There’s so much more to try, from the fried fish of Jalea Real to Lomo Saltado Terras, a Peruvian stir-fry with filet mignon.
“Next time,” called the customer who recommended Chincha, as we headed for the door, “you try the Peruvian Chinese food.” He was referring to Chaufas, or Peruvian-style fried rice.
Sure, we’re happy to learn from the regulars!
Terras Ceviche, 559 Bound Brook Road, Middlesex Borough. 732-752-3700.Click here to leave a comment