Diego de la Puente is as busy as a man who has newly stepped into the role of fatherhood. Owner of the popular San Isidro eatery Barrio (which opened just last year) and Surco’s Osaka, the successful entrepreneur now has a third restaurant under his belt, KO. Taking the name from the Japanese word that translates to “son of Osaka,” the youngest member of de la Puente’s varied family of eateries is not to be ignored.
Clean lines and understated design attract hungry guests in to take a seat at the simple table and chairs of KO; a soothing and calm atmosphere serving much like a safe haven from the frenzy of the surrounding mall. Bottles of hot sauce and soy sauce, along with chopsticks and napkins, serve as the only centerpiece upon each table, building anticipation for the gastronomical journey to come.
_Clean, modern, and welcoming describe the restaurant’s design (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
Although the space is kept minimal, the sleek interior kept our attention as we waited for something cool to quench our thirst. Just as de la Puente told “Peru this Week”:http://www.peruthisweek.com/, the objective of the restaurant is to ‘bring the world to Peru,’ which KO appears to have successfully carried out from the interior design to the creations in the kitchen. And while KO’s menu is not extensive, it is certainly varied- a noticeable fact from the first glance at the drink menu.
From the seven cocktails offered, we sipped on four: Miss Ko (S/. 32), a light, Sake and aloe vera concoction that would appeal to fans of champagne; Java Juice (S/. 26), the only Pisco-based drink that fell a bit flat, perhaps as it is inevitably compared to the classic Pisco Sour; Shanghai Boy (S/. 34), whose dark bourbon pleased the men and women situated at the table despite it’s male-oriented name; and finally, the Lizard King (S/. 26). This was a delightful surprise even for the non-Vodka drinkers due to the refreshing addition of basil and lychee.
_A refreshing line-up of Miss KO, Lizard King, and Java Juice (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
Feeling playful after the round of cocktails, it was time to try the bubble teas (all S/. 16). Floating in the teas of course are the typical tapioca balls (that are actually made in-house), but it’s the flavors of the far east that set these all-ages-suitable drinks apart. Oolong, sencha, and jasmine are just a few of the various teas offered, paired with fruits and herbs that together yield refreshing flavors. Next time an early afternoon walk along the _malecon_ has your body begging for a cool down, the Unshu (Jasmine tea mixed with mandarin and lime) would be the perfect remedy.
_Stop in for the bubble teas for a fun and tasty drink (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
With all the breezy, summer-time drinks, it was time to fill our bellies with something from the main course menu. A classic dish from Indonesia, the Nasi Goreng (S/. 28) rice dish tossed the grains with bacon, then served with a fried egg on top. Laid alongside the impeccably compact stack of rice were skewers of curried chicken, to be enjoyed with the dollop of peanut sauce.
_Nasi Goreng (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
Highly recommended is the Pad Thai (S/. 38), consisting of tofu and shrimp, tossed with rice noodles, cilantro, and toasted peanuts. With the generous amount of animal protein and thick slices of mushroom, the dish can easily be shared by two. Although a classic Thai dish, Pad Thai is something that many foreigners and expats from the U.S. and Europe come to miss as Peru does not boast a long list of Thai restaurants.
_Pad thai (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
Bringing smiles all around the table was the Salmon Sweet Miso (S/. 42). Grilled vegetables lay next to the cooked fish that was lightly coated with a sweet sauce of the traditional Japanese seasoning, miso. Often the rich flavor of salmon is lost as restaurants drench the pink flesh in thick sauces, so it was a relief that the miso sauce did not overpower the fish but rather added just the right amount of sweetness.
_Salmon Sweet Miso (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
Hot soup is not usually on one’s mind at this time of year yet the Miso Ramen (S/. 29) is a great option for those cool summer nights. In the broth, swimming alongside fresh noodles, are shallots and sesame seeds, delicately placed along their heftier soup-bowl companions: pancetta and a boiled egg.
_Miso Ramen (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
As the son of Osaka, it perhaps comes as no surprise that half a page of KO’s menu is dedicated to maki rolls. The first set was the Crispy Passion (S/. 28), a beautiful presentation of golden makis topped with thin slices of honey-coated salmon, set in a sweet sauce of maracuya. For those craving something savory, beware, as this dish was practically a dessert with the sugary additions.
Although it’s always nice to end on a sweet note, the table had a greater craving for a wow-factor maki. Luckily, the household KO Maki (S/. 26) was served. Filled with fried shrimp, soft avocado and fresh Japanese cucumber, the maki pieces wore a coat of mildly spicy Sriracha-soaked bits of mixed seafood.
_KO Maki (Photo: Erick Andia/Peru this Week)_
After all of the sampling, there seemed to be no room for dessert- that night. KO’s dessert menu flirted with our appetites (and will-power) by offering such treats as Lima Matcha Bruleé (S/.19) and Pineapple Mochi (S/. 19). No matter the season, I know on my future return to KO that I will save room for the Vietnamese Hot Chocolate (S/. 19), a delectable sounding duo of _manjar_ and ginger ice cream served atop a slice of hot chocolate cake.
KO Asian Kitchen
Phone: +511 444-5049
Open Monday-Sunday: 12 p.m.- 12 a.m.
Cocktails: S/. 26-34
Bubble teas: S/. 16
Mains: S/. 26-42
Rolls: S/. 14-28 (half and full-sized portions)
Desserts: S/. 18-19