Is ceviche poised to become as popular as sushi or sashimi in L.A.? It could happen. I'm thinking Ricardo Zarate is onto something as the Peruvian chef (Mo-Chica, Picca) gets ready to open a ceviche concept called Paiche. Raw seafood marinated in lime juice with chiles and cilantro and other elements suits a Southern California palate. It's cool and refreshing, packs in vibrant flavors and is light on the calories.
Picca, Peruvian Cantina
We've already gotten a taste of Zarate's ceviche style at Picca, his upscale cantina, where he has three (and sometimes more) ceviches on the menu. His flavors are sharp and focused, and each dish plays up the textures of the various seafood. He's not timid with the spicing either. Watch out for ceviche criollo made with chunks of sea bass with choclo (giant dried corn), bright orange sweet potato in a fiery leche de tigre ("tiger's milk") marinade. I love too the way halibut plays against crispy calamari and Japanese seaweed in his ceviche croccante.
9575 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 277-0133; http://www.piccaperu.com. Ceviche, $15 to $17.
This simple place near West Adams specializes in — no surprise — ceviche. The specialty is concha negra, bloody-clam ceviche, a heady mix of the dark burgundy clams with diced tomato, onion, avocado and mint in a tart broth spiked with Worcestershire. You can order it mixto too, dotted with octopus and shrimp. Guatemalan mixed ceviche — with crab, shrimp and thin rounds of violet-edged octopus — is a finer cut, almost a seafood salad in a bowl. There's a Peruvian style ceviche too, with red snapper, aji pepper and boiled potatoes. Great for lunch or a quick snack. The kitchen closes at 7:30 p.m. most nights.
3809 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 732-1253. Cash only. BYOB. Ceviche, $12 to $17.
One of sushi chef Nobu
22706 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, (310) 317-9140, http://www.noburestaurants.com. Ceviche, $16 to $19.