In the busy streets of downtown Arequipa, El Buda Profano is a little sanctuary in which locals, expats, and travelers can get high-quality sushi at an affordable price, and it’s vegan!
We were joined by Alan, the owner (and self-styled manager, dishwasher, and accountant extraordinaire) of El Buda Profano, and he told us a bit about the restaurant’s origins. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Alan has been a vegetarian for over 30 years, and loved the array of vegetarian and vegan sushi Vancouver had to offer. When he moved to Arequipa, he saw an amazing number of vegetarian restaurants in the city, but many of them seemed similar. He wanted to do something different, so what was the craziest thing he could think of? Vegan sushi.
Alan worked hard to develop a concept of using traditional-style Japanese sushi, but also wanted to use native textures to bring out the natural flavors of the fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and tofu of Peru. He met Jim Daniel Echevarría (Jimbo), a Peruvian chef and restaurant concept designer, who helped to develop a solid menu based on Alan’s concept. During this time, Alan had landed on the name El Buda Profano, a salute to traditional, vegetarian Japanese cuisine that would normally be located near a Buddhist temple, but in Arequipa, served with wine and beer and not in sight of a Buddhist temple. Vegan sushi is profane indeed.
When we asked Alan about the future of El Buda Profano, he was excited to tell us that his client base has been increasing, and he hopes to move and expand to a bigger, high-profile space while staying in the downtown area. Additionally, he and his team have discussed creating a wine and sake bar, and many fans from Lima would like him to expand there as well.
El Buda Profano is located in historic, downtown Arequipa on Calle Bolívar close to the hustle and bustle of Puente Grau for locals and near many notable sights and hostels for travelers. The restaurant is in one of the city’s iconic buildings made of the white volcanic rock that Arequipa is famous for. Its high, arched ceiling makes the small space feel open and inviting, and the simple wooden tables with low-set chairs give a sleek and modern feeling creating an interesting dichotomy with the classic style of the building. Of course, true to the name, there are little Buddha statues and paintings everywhere.
El Buda Profano presents an impressive menu of traditional Japanese sushi and soups made to order but also has many combinations and lunch specials to choose from. You can even find a vegan ceviche on the menu.
If you’re not sure what to order, the Tasting Menu for 2 (S/50), which includes 2 orders of Miso Soup, 2 Sunomono Salads, and 25 sushi rolls, is a good place to start. Our hosts brought over a tray that included the Futomaki Verde, which contains artichoke, spinach, avocado, cucumber. The cucumber creates the perfect crunch, and the flavors blend perfectly. The Tomate Nigirizushi, a deceptively simple roll with rice, topped with tomato, wrapped in nori, seems unassuming, but the freshness and flavor of the tomato bring this roll to life. Next, the Alcachofa Gunkanmaki blends artichoke & cucumber into perfection, and my favorite, the Buda Maki combines eggplant, avocado, and is topped with mayonnaise and is amazing alone or with a little wasabi and soy sauce. Lastly, one of the more popular rolls, the Selva Maki blends shitake mushrooms, cucumber, avocado, and is topped with mango to bring all the flavors together.
El Buda Profano only has one dessert on the menu, but that’s all it needs. The Choco Maki (S/15) is an 8-piece dream for chocolate lovers. These rolls incorporate banana, apple, crunchy pecans, and dark chocolate all wrapped in rice and covered in, of course, more chocolate. If you’re put off by dessert sushi, don’t be! This is a truly delectable dessert.
The menu offers a variety of drinks, from Green Tea (S/4), to refresco, juice, wines (S/13 or 2 for S/20), beer, and even sake.
El Buda Profano continues to be one of our favorite restaurants in town, so if you find yourself strolling the historic streets of Arequipa, stop in for a bite! If you would like to see more of El Buda Profano, check out The Fandrich Expedition’s “A Taste of Arequipa” video.
El Buda Profano
Calle Bolívar 425 Centro Histórico Arequipa, Perú
Monday – Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Starters: S/4 – S/15
Samplers: S/22 – S/132
Tasting Menu: S/50 – S/75
Combos: S/10 – S/20
Lunch Special: S/15
Happy Hour Special: S/15 – S/45
Sushi: S/5 – S/17
Drinks: S/4 – S/60