As I prepared to go to Nanka for a second gastronomic visit, I was uncertain about what to expect since the youthful couple that created this revolutionary restaurant were killed in a tragic car accident last year. Just thinking about going to Nanka made me relive the deep helplessness I felt when I first heard the news of Jason and Lorena’s untimely passing. However, upon entering the restaurant, Juan Carlos and Pebbles Valdivia’s warmth and kind nature made me feel at ease and helped me understand that the young couple’s spirit and dreams were still alive.
“As described with great detail in a prior feature”:http://www.peruthisweek.com/food-146-Nanka-A-restaurant-as-good-for-the-environment-as-it-is-for-the-palate/, Nanka’s amazing interiors that interact seamlessly with La Molina’s sunny nature immediately put you in a good mood. The open kitchen, staffed by Jason and Lorena’s disciples, is also as vibrant as I remember it. What we understood from the Valdivias was that cooking guru and entrepreneur Gastón Acurio himself encouraged them to keep the restaurant and its unique sustainable concept alive. It has proven to be a great suggestion because business is strong.
Some of the offerings I love about Nanka that remain the same are the complimentary cold-infused table water called Agua Nanka with herbs harvested from their own vertical garden, the growing collection of gourmet craft beers now also on tap, and the in-house roasted and especially selected organic coffee from Jaen.
Food in Nanka is delicious, wholesome and made to be shared. Entrées are hearty and will satisfy any kind of craving you come with. The philosophy conceived by Jason and Lorena is to take universally known dishes like bangers and mash and enhance them with Peruvian touches of healthy and organic fare; it is sustainable fusion, if you will.
One highly recommended house favorite is the Vietnamese-style rolls made with warm, crunchy Tumbes shrimp wrapped by a leaf of Iceberg lettuce and served with fragrant dipping sauce. Another classic with a real Andean twist is _alpaca tonnato_. As _vitello tonnato_ is one of my favorite Italian appetizers, the idea of preparing it with alpaca instead of veal is indeed unusual and a must-try. Other greatly appreciated appetizers are the scallops on cauliflower puree and the _cebiche Nanka_ made with the sustainable catch of the day and served with avocado, pickled papaya and watermelon.
For pasta lovers, there is an appealing selection of homemade varieties including outstanding creamy _porcón_ spaghetti and duck ravioli with sage butter, all pastas are cooked al dente and served at the right temperature for a winter day.
The larger, more generous entrées – which you will definitely want to share – include _arroz con pato acebichado_, _cochinillo_, _PachaNANKA_ and _curry de lomo_, Nanka’s luscious Indian-inspired twist on the ubiquitous Peruvian _lomo saltado_. All these carnivorous dishes are incredibly special and make it worth coming with a larger party to have the glorious opportunity to sample them all.
The highlight of this visit was the opportunity to mix my own Chilcano Nanka. When you order this hands-on experience, you’ll be presented – at your table – with a rectangular stone slab carrying five ingredients, including a 5 ml. miniature Pisco Portón, especially bottled for Nanka. After playing bartender for a couple of minutes, the resulting cocktail tasted wonderful. There are also other very original beverages made with 100 percent natural ingredients, which can be shaken or stirred by a pro.
Desserts in Nanka are as delectable as their savory counterparts. We were very fortunate to be able to sample a wide variety of them. Some of the options are a deconstructed NY style cheesecake with strawberry sorbet, a real chocolate lover’s cake and mousse, a very unique tasting corn _tres leches_, gooseberry pie with passion fruit sorbet, _mashua alfajores_ and 73 percent-cocoa truffles. My personal favorite was the _tres leches_ because of its original flavor, but if you are fond of chocolate, I strongly suggest trying the cake and the truffles.
Nanka also hosts special events like “garden sounds” on Thursday nights featuring live swing, jazz or funk and 2 x 1 cocktails. Also, Nanka’s _lonchecito gourmet_, a high tea of sorts, is served on Mondays to Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. includes connoisseur-worthy organic coffee and Peruvian delicacies. Nanka kids, on Fridays at 5:00 p.m. are special eco-friendly activities that reach out to the little ones of the house and provide them with a healthy snack. Nanka also has rooms for catered private events for 10 to 30 people.
Nanka is a place for everyone who lives by a health and environment-conscious philosophy yet values refinement and good times. The restaurant’s setting is well worth experiencing, even if you are not in La Molina district. I know that Jason and Lorena would be proud of all that the Valdivias are doing to keep their vision alive. Come to Nanka and be part of the dream!
Los Bambúes 198, La Molina, Lima