If you’re into the exotic, but still somewhat of a picky eater, El Aguajal is the place for you.
Amazonian food is one of the more overlooked of the Peruvian regional cuisines. They differentiate themselves from the rest with the richness of their environment and the heat & humidity of the climate. There are more preserved meats here than in the rest of Peru, and the ingredients used aren’t widespread.
El Aguajal is a family owned chain of restaurant spread out throughout Lima.
Each restaurant is owned by a family member and the recipes are derived from their matriarch. The story goes that, they sold juanes in Los Olivos to gather some money in a time of need. When they discovered they were good at it, they kept growing from there.
A fun appetizer to order would be the Zuriqueños, cheese filled tequeños in the form of a Zuri (a wood grub eaten in the jungle). It fooled me for a second. If you’re looking for something easy to eat, try the Fettucini in a Cocona (acidic jungle fruit) cream, the Amazonian Chaufa, or the Arroz Chacarero (similar to the Chaufa but made with mishkina, a sofrito made with onion, garlic, sachaculantro & turmeric). Each of these comes with Amazonian chorizo and/or Cecina, a type of “bacon” made from wild jungle boar.
The added sides make those dishes quite hefty on the palate. But if you pair it off with the colorfully acidic Camu Camu juice it’ll refresh & vitalize you. Not to mention it’s one of the fruits with the highest amount of vitamin c in the world.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, try either the Juane or their Patarashca. Their Juane is an Avispa Juane; this means that apart from rice & mishkina, they strew the mixture with chicken and eggs before wrapping it in bijau leaves. The Patarashca is a sort of papillote. It’s made with either a whole fish or a fillet, a sweet, pink aji that isn’t spicy, and mishkina, wrapped and barbecued in the ever aromatic bijau leaf.
There are more traditional Amazonian restaurants in Lima, but El Aguajal acts as a bridge between the less adventured and the exotic jungle flair.
Be sure to try their Uvachado! It’s a concord grape maceration they make themselves from grapes from the jungle. They also sell some other jungle goodies such as traditional liquors and snacks. Overall, from my personal opinion, the execution of the food didn’t awe me. Their stir-fried rice dishes could’ve used more “breathe of the wok” while everything else seemed as though it lacked a bit of salt. But remember, we all have our own gustos!
Jr. Huiracocha 1498, Jesus Maria
Monday – Tuesday: 9 am – 5 pm
Wednesday – Sunday 11 am – 5 pm