Andean music plays on the stereo and photos of Lima line the walls of Con Sazon Authentic Peruvian Cuisine. The straw mats, the folk art and even the exposed ventilation ducts and florescent lights give you that pleasant wayfaring feeling of being in a foreign land. The food only makes it better.
Peruvian food favors ingredients everyone is familiar with — meat, seafood, tomatoes, onions and potatoes, as well as some that are more exotic — huacatay (a spicy Andean herb), choclo (large white corn kernels), and the infamous anticucho de corazon (cow heart).
No visit to a Peruvian restaurant would be complete without some ceviche ($12.75 to $14.50). We chose the raw-fish version, although you can get it with shrimp, octopus or squid. Thick cubes of sea bass are marinated in lime and spices until they’re tart and toothsome. They’re served with marinated red onions, choclo and sweet potatoes. A beer would be nice with this ceviche but there’s no liquor license at Con Sazon.
The papa rellena is another interesting appetizer ($4.50). Ground beef, raisins, olives and hard-boiled egg are hidden inside a ball of mashed potato and then deep fried. We also tried the anticucho de carne, skewered grilled beef, which was flavorful but a little overcooked ($8.95).
My favorite entrees were the ones with the strongest flavors. The pescado al ajo ($12.95) is a crispy fish filet with a snappy garlic sauce that blends well with the accompanying rice. The saltado de pollo ($10.95) is earthy and comforting. The sauteed mixture of chicken, onions and tomatoes has the added interest of French fries, Peruvian spices and a hint of soy sauce.
My son adored the tallarin saltado con camaron, a combination of shrimp, onions, tomatoes and spaghetti ($12.95). “It’s like Chinese chop suey, but much better,” he says. On the other hand, some of the dishes, such as the beef stew with refried white beans ($13.95) and the bisteck encebollado ($11.95) were rather bland, lacking the pizzazz of similar dishes at other Peruvian restaurants.
One other warning—the parihuela ($12.95) is not for the faint-hearted. This spicy seafood soup has a fabulous broth but there are all kinds of sea creatures, some with large eyes, looking up at you. The cow heart (anticucho de corazon), on the other hand, is easy. The skewered grilled bites look and taste like chewy filet mignon.
To wash it all down, try the delicious chicha morada (purple corn juice) with hints of clove and cinnamon ($1.75). And for dessert, they serve these wonderful fritters (piccarones) filled with a pumpkin/yucca/sweet potato mousse and swimming in a sticky, sweet chancaca (unrefined sugar) sauce ($6).
Our waiter was charming, funny and right there when you needed him. Con Sazon might not be the most innovative Peruvian restaurant in the Los Angeles area, but the service is great, the food is simple and authentic, the decor is unpretentious and the location is close by.
Lisa Dupuy has been reviewing local restaurants since 2008. She welcomes comments at LDupuy@aol.com.
What: Con Sazon Authentic Peruvian Cuisine
Where: 6514 San Fernando Road, Glendale
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Prices: Appetizers and soups $4 to $14.50; beef, chicken, seafood and pasta entrees $10.95 to $19.95
Contact: (818) 500-8713