WARR ACRES — Peruvian cuisine extended its reach in the Oklahoma City metro area when one of its top local purveyors opened Ceviche House, 5805 NW 50, in the spring.
Peruvian Juan Castro's two decades in the restaurant business have led him through many Mexican restaurants, but his dream has been to share the food of his homeland.
Mamaveca in Norman and Zarate's in Edmond proved Peruvian food would sell alongside Tex-Mex, but Castro wanted to prove Peruvian food could stand alone.
So in 2009, he and two fellow Peruvians opened El Pollon, which was the first restaurant in the city to feature an all-Peruvian menu. El Pollon was never large enough to support all three partners, but its popularity did spur outgrowth. El Pollon is now Naylamp, 2106 SW 44, and former partner Niel Zambrano has Inca Trail, 10948 N May Ave.
Castro and Eduardo Carranza opened Ceviche House in May. The menu initially featured Tex-Mex and Peruvian food but is now 95 percent Peruvian.
Castro was familiar with the space because he'd helped open an ill-fated Chelino's in it. Even the successful Chelino's brand was unable to stem the tidal wave of customers frequenting Abel's Mexican Cafe, which is just across NW 50.
So, Castro and Carranza tried something different.
“We want to offer something nobody has around here,” Castro said. “Authentic Peruvian food.”
Each Latin American country has its specialties, and ceviche belongs to Peru. I've had excellent ceviche all across the country, but the top five ceviches I've ever eaten were in one of the five aforementioned Peruvian restaurants in the Oklahoma City metro.
True to its name, Ceviche House does a phenomenal job with Peru's national dish. Castro and Carranza offer Tiradito, a Japanese-inspired version seasoned with ginger, lime and aji amarillo (mild yellow peppers from Peru); Pescado, a simple Peruvian ceviche; and Mexicano, which includes avocado and the aji amarillo sauce. Then there's the Ceviche en la Copa, which is like a ceviche cocktail. The Camarones Calientes are clash between shrimp and the rocoto pepper, an Andean pepper with Scotch Bonnet tendencies. The Choritos a la Chalaca (say that 10 times fast) weds mussels with salsa fresca.