Monday, 21 April 2014

Andina - Buzzing the Peruvian Vibe

I remember liking Ceviche in Soho a couple of years back, but it was so new to me back then I was still a bit doubtful. So I was quite excited to check out the new sister restaurant, see if I'd like it more this time. Instead of keeping trying to book a table for the evening, I decided to drag Mister along on a late Saturday afternoon for some brunch. 

We were seated at the downstairs bar; good because the music upstairs were quite loud. Our bar tender introduced us to the menu while we sipped on our freshly squeeze smoothies, Supay and Chambi. I was spoilt for choices, wanted to a bit of everything... but narrowed down to one item per section. 

Ceviche Andina: seabass ceviche, goldenberry, avocado, sweet potato
I remember trying this South American raw fish dish for the first time at Ceviche in Soho and fell in love with it instantly. It was the refreshing citrus notes in the tiger's milk, the bouncy textures of fish and the crunchy vegetables with subtle sweet juices. All the ceviche dishes looked interesting, but Mister said it was always the safest to go with their signature. 

My god the marinade here was strong; I mean it was a super acidic blow and my eyes began to water a little. I wouldn't say it was unpleasant, just definitely too tangy for my taste buds. Had the the acidity been more reined in and controlled, I would imagine the sweet potato cubes to be a beautiful balance to the dish. I recall the tiger's milk at Soho to be much more mellow. The textures, though, were fantastic; the thick slices of sea bass were fresh and full of bounce, avocado was rich and creamy; sweet potato was soft and tender; all topped off with a sprinkle of fragrant toasted nuts. 

Quinoa Croquestas with rocoto chilli jam
These croquestas were delicious. Again, full marks for textures; the grains of quinoa were chewy, but they were infused with a dense, smooth filling; together with the crispy breadcrumb shell and a generous smear of the sweet chilli jam, these little balls were delightful. 

Sea Trout Tartare Causa avocado, limo chilli, cold potato, Uchucuta herb sauce
I really enjoyed the causa. The roughly chopped trout was well-seasoned and fatty, so it had the melty mouthfeel and subtle sweetness of fish oils, with the small cubes of avocado adding to the lusciousness. It complimented the smooth potato mash well. 

Pig Butty Confit pork belly, soft bun, sweet potato ketchup, amarillo chilli
Our pig butty and choclo corn cake must have got lost in the system; they didn't make it to our table until we prompted. 

I wasn't expecting such a big bun! The brioche buns were soft and buttery, with cubes of deep-fried pork belly and a smear of sweet potato puree on the inside. Fundamentally it was a good butty, but it was missing something - I think it's missing some juice. Ideally had the cubes of belly been bursting with pork juice and fat, it would have helped to moist things up, but the meat was surprisingly lean, still tender, just lean, and so the breadcrumb shell on a thin layer of puree was somewhat prickly. 

I don't know what it needs, maybe a generous squirt of that delicious chilli jam, or a slab of belly instead of cubes, or a wedge of apple to lift things up? Whatever, I just felt it could have been even better. 

Choclo Corn Cake Giant corn and fresco cheese savoury cake, poached egg, Huancaina sauce, avocado, salsa criolla
If I had to choose my favourite item of the meal, it would be the corn cake. The springy cake was gently sweet with small bits of broken sweetcorn for crunch, the blobs of cheese gave it extra chew. It soaked up the mildly spicy cheese sauce and custard-like yolk - it was a gorgeous combination. As an avid meat lover, all I would ask is perhaps a sausage, or chorizo or maybe bacon? 

We finished off with a Bloody Andina, and the bar tender warned is that it was going to be spicier than usual because of the chillie had been left in the pisco for a tad too long. Yea he wasn't lying, it really had a good kick to it as Mister likes to describe spicy, but still a good drink. 

I really enjoyed Andina. I think I had reservations about Peruvian cuisine after Ceviche in Soho, and I definitely didn't like LIMA, but now that I am more used to the dishes and the style, I think Andina hits a few good spots for me - with the exception of their ceviche. It's a great brunch option to keep things light and healthy, it has plenty of variation to mix things up and to share, and the bouncy vibe was just an added bonus. That said I'm not sure if Mister enjoyed it as much as I did, perhaps it's quite a girly cuisine? I would definitely return, and would still order a ceviche dish just to make sure it wasn't a one-off slip.  

1 Redchurch Street
E2 7DJ
Tel: 0207 920 6499
Andina Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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