Restaurant Review: Hatunpa

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Watch out hot potato, big potato is in town, and it’s got dehydrated potato dessert on the table.

Hatunpa, Quechua for “big potato”, is daring and innovative when it comes to mixing traditional Peruvian plates with potatoes as the base. Imagine, _rocoto relleno_, transformed and delicately served on top a rainbow of sliced potatoes. Not quite your taste? Hatunpa is a restaurant for the most rebellious palates.

César Torres, a Peruvian native, found himself inspired by potatos after living in Germany and England for two years and returning home to the sacred cradle of the nutritious and enduring tuberous crop.

With potato ideas boiling César contacted his colleague, Cecilia Guerra, a chef and systems engineer, from hist time working 20 years as a hotel administrator in the Colca Canyon. Four years later, Hatunpa has become a hit.

hatunpa
_(Photo: Peru this Week/Mario Ojeda)_

From the sidewalk, the simple deep-red facade of the restaurant makes a small impression for the variety and delicious plates that wait inside. And what was a modest four table hole-in-the-wall just last month, Hatunpa has now expanded to a second room with six more tables. César and Cecilia boasted of the colors that now cover the walls and serve to attract visitors from the street. Lured in, customers are not disappointed once they taste the potato dishes such as the sweet and mysterious _dulce de chuño_.

Hatunpa offers something that no other restaurant has yet to offer. In just one plate, a customer can experience the unique flavors, colors, and textures of up to seven different native potatoes.

hatunpa
_(Photo: Peru this Week/Mario Ojeda)_

If you come in expecting over-sized portions and traditional Peruvian plates in their expected forms, you will be surprised. Hatunpa is a restaurant that is challenging the norms of Peruvian cuisine, with portions that are made to satisfy (and not stuff), dishes with fresh vegetables and grilled meats (less fat and grease), and above all, meals that offer the most impressive selection of potatoes in just one plate.

The most popular plate, and of course César’s favorite, hatunpa (S/. 20), has seven different potatoes which are served under a mountain of chicken, onions, carrots, choclo, cheese, peppers, onions, spinach, and a creamy white sauce. Hatunpa, just like the rest of their plates, is not a traditionally large plate, but it is surprisingly filling (and very delicious).

hatunpa
_(Photo: Peru this Week/Mario Ojeda)_

Hatunpa is essentially potatoes served with your choice of toppings, which range from _lomo saltado_ (prices vary depending on choice of meat), _aji de gallina_, _rocoto relleno_, and _huancaina con choclito_, among others. Hatunpa has created unique plates where all these traditional, Peruvian foods are transformed into “toppings” and potatoes form the base. They also give meat options including chicken, beef, and of course, alpaca.

The _soltero de queso_ is cheese, olive, onion, tomato, fava beans, and carrots. _Cauche de queso_ is queso fresco, onion, milk, and Peruvian herbs. _Ocopa Arequipeño con queso_ is huacatay, garlic, yellow pepper, onion, crackers, milk, and peanuts.

hatunpa
_(Photo: Peru this Week/Mario Ojeda)_

When the Peru this Week team visited Hatunpa, the favorites swung back and forth between the hatunpa and the ocopa Arequipeño con queso. Personally it was a difficult decision.

_Quemaditos_ are normally served on festive occasions, but yet again, the Hatunpa crew broke the rules and made it part of the menu. The quemadito is a refreshing beverage made with orange juice and carmelized sugar. It can be served hot or cold, with coca or muña, and, upon request, with a shot of pisco. They also serve a classic, homemade chicha morada, among other drinks.

Desserts offered include _Dulce de quinoa_ is the quinoa version of the traditional arroz con leche, as well as _dulce de chuño_. César likes to serve this one to the winners of the map guessing game (Do you know the world’s flags by heart, or how to say potato in more than your native tongue? If so, you got a chance at a free dessert).

He serves it without telling his customers the origin of the main ingredient until they’ve tried it. More often than not, his customers are not familiar with the freeze-dried potato of the high altitudes of Peru. Chuño, because it is freeze-dried, and can be stored for years, is a nutritious, security food for Peruvians living in harsh, arid conditions. Those unfamiliar with chuño are turned off by its harsh smell, but in Hatunpa’s dulce de chuño, it’s a sweet and delicious treat.

hatunpa
_(Photo: Peru this Week/Mario Ojeda)_

Canchan was the first potato they used when they opened, and soon after the most common varieties that they have used include Compis, Salamanca, Mariba, Lomo negra, Maktillo, Lomo roja, Camote, Lomo Blanca. Later, they added Peruanita, Negra, Huayro, and Yema de huevo.

Finally, Pitiquiña, Wenqos, Sangre de Toro, Quecorani, Garra de Puma, Cacho de toro, Leon, Puka Sonko are the potatoes brought from Cuzco, Puno and Ayacucho. All together, that makes a total of 21 potatoes for Hatunpa.

hatunpa
_(Photo: Peru this Week/Mario Ojeda)_

“TripAdvsior”:http://www.tripadvisor.com.pe/Restaurant_Review-g294313-d2213103-Reviews-Hatunpa-Arequipa_Arequipa_Region.html gives Hatunpa 4.5 stars and has proven very popular among foreigners (I give them a 5!).

Hatunpa
Calle Ugarte 208
Cercado, Arequipa
(054) 212918
“Facebook”:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hatunpa-Sac/240019449355036?sk=timeline
Monday-Saturday 12:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Main dishes S/. 11 to S/. 20
Desserts S/. 6 to S/. 9.50
Visa, Amex, Mastercard, and Cash
Vegetarian and vegan options available.
Takes Reservations, Take Out, Delivery and Catering
Visa, American Express and Cash

Don’t miss out on Day of the Potato on May 30!

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Hillary Ojeda

Hillary moved to Peru in August of 2014 to learn Spanish, live with her family, and pursue writing. Born and raised in Bakersfield, Ca, Hillary earned her B.A. in Anthropology at University of California, Berkeley. Since moving to Peru she drinks fermented potato and coca concoctions daily and is enjoying learning about the abundant and natural andean foods of the country. Hillary hopes one day to become an investigative journalist. You can follow her blog.