Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Peruvian cuisine comes back to midtown Wilmington with new restaurant Aromas of Peru

After closing the Golden Chicken restaurant in 2016, chef and owner Julian Herrera has reopened a new Peruvian place near UNCW.

WILMINGTON — In the shopping center across midtown’s University Centre you can eat Mongolian, Chinese, and Japanese foods and sip on Kava tea from the Pacific Islands. On Saturday, after a two-year hiatus, the Herrera family reintroduced Peruvian cuisine to the block.

“There are many unique ingredients that Mother Earth gifted our people with — that’s why our food is so rich,” head chef and owner Julian Herrera said on Monday while Peruvian salsa music played overhead. Peru’s cuisine is even richer due to its fusion with Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and African cultures over the years, he said.

After closing Golden Chicken in 2016 due to Herrera’s personal health concerns, the family has opened Aromas of Peru in the same location (417 S College Rd) and will look towards a grand opening sometime next week.

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“The owners of the Golden Chicken are back in business, and the food is just as amazing as I remember in my dreams!” Facebook user Rosa Godwin said over the weekend. 

According to Herrera, Peruvian restaurants have emerged in some of the world’s largest cities in the past decade, places like Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, and London.

“People are becoming familiar with Peruvian food, not just cuy,” Herrera said, referring to Peru’s popular dish of roasted guinea pig, “which tastes like chicken.”

Although cuy will not be on the menu due to Americans’ preference for the rodent as a pet, Herrera is excited to offer his country’s signature dishes of rotisserie chicken seasoned in his secret recipe — which is not for sale — and lomo saltado, a stir-fry with tomato, wine and soy sauce prepared by the Chinese wok hei method of flame-cooking, resulting in a complex smoky flavor.

Plans for the near future include introducing ceviche, which many historians agree came from the ancient Moche civilization in Peru, and baked pastries like alfajor (sandwich cookies filled with Peruvian milk caramel), crema volteada (a creamy Peruvian egg custard topped with soft caramel), and homemade ice cream topped with the exotic lucuma fruit.

Peruvian crafts and artwork decorate the new Aromas of Peru restaurant in midtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Peruvian crafts and artwork decorate the new Aromas of Peru restaurant in midtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

Also coming soon are fresh Peruvian-style seafood plates: the arroz con mariscos (the Peruvian version of Spain’s paella dish), fried flounder, and mahi-mahi steak topped with a creamy yellow pepper, white wine sauce, and served with white rice and fried yucca.

Aromas of Peru also offers the chicha morada, a drink made from a purple corn found only in the Andes Mountains. After boiling the dried, blackish corn in water with cloves of cinnamon until it turns purple, then adding lime juice and sugar, Peru’s undisputed national drink is slightly rustic, mildly sweet, and rich in antioxidants.

Herrera pointed out the purple corn drink is famous in his homeland for purportedly boosting the immune system and fighting cancer.

During the Herrera family’s time away from the business, Julian said that although their hearts were heavy, they knew that someday they’d be back.

“It was deeply in our hearts, day by day, that one day we’d be back in business,” Herrera said.

Below is a snapshot of their starting menu, with dishes ranging from $10 – $30:

Appetizers

  • An Avocado Walks In: Two avocado halves topped with our own special rotisserie chicken salad and veggies.
  • Antichuchos: An original, traditional recipe — marinated veal heart, skewered and seared over the charbroiler.
  • Calamari: Served the Peruvian way, with onion relish and golden-fried yucca.
  • Salchipapas: A delicious mix of hot dogs and French fries, topped with shredded lettuce, yellow sauce, green sauce, and ketchup.
  • Chicken Salad: Fresh mixed greens with cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes, topped with slices of rotisserie chicken breast.

House Specialties

  • Rotisserie Chicken: Slow-roast a 5-pound chicken in our rotisserie oven over oak charcoal to add a slightly sweet, smoky flavor and a beautiful, golden-brown color. Options include quarter-pound white or dark meat, half-pound white or dark meat, and a whole chicken cut in quarters.
  • Rotisserie Chicken Fried Rice (Chaufa de Pollo): Peruvian-style fried rice; a glorious mix of chicken, scrambled eggs, green onions, and sweet red pepper.
  • The Jumping Cow (Lomo Saltado): Thin strips of beef sautéed in our special wine and soy sauce with tomatoes and sweet red onions, served over fries and rice.
  • Steak Fried Rice (Chaufa de Carne): With Peruvian-style fried rice.
  • De Pobre (Bistec a lo Pobre): Grilled sirloin steak topped with fried eggs, served with fries, plantains, white rice, and salad.
  • Parrillada (Mixed Grill): Enough for two people — or one really hungry person! A meat lover’s dream, includes an all-grilled mix of top sirloin steak, 1/4 of a rotisserie chicken, two Spanish sausages and a shrimp kebab. Served with two roasted chiles, four plantain slices, salad, and two sides.

Seafood (Coming Soon)

  • Ceviche (Coming Soon): A dish from the ancient Moche civilization, ceviche is a fusion of fresh flavors whose popularity has exploded in recent years. A combination of fresh seafood and lime juice (which “cooks” the fish without changing its delicate texture), ceviche led the way in introducing Peruvian culture to the world.
  • The Deluxe (Arroz con Mariscos): The Peruvian version of Spain’s beloved paella — savory yellow rice cooked with a delicious mix of seafood, vegetables, and spices, served with fried yucca.
  • Fried Flounder (Filete de Lenguado Frito): Flounder fillet lightly fried to perfection and served with your choice of two sides.
  • Serious Mahi-Mahi (Perico a lo Macho): Mahi-mahi steak grilled to perfection and topped with seafood in a creamy sauce made with yellow pepper sauce and white wine, served with white rice and fried yucca.
  • Seafood Platter (Jalea): Lightly fried assortment of seafood and white fish served with a side of golden fried yucca and salsa criolla.

Baked Pastries (Coming Soon)

  • Alfajor: Sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche (Peruvian milk caramel).
  • Mil Hojas: Puff pastry layered with dulce de leche.
  • Crema Volteada: Creamy Peruvian egg custard topped with soft caramel.
  • Tres Leches: Traditional Latin American three-milk cake.
  • Tiramisu: The classic Italian dessert.
  • Lucuma Ice Cream: Housemade, featuring the exotic lucuma fruit.

Drinks

  • Chicha morada (purple corn drink): Peru’s national drink
  • Maracuya: passion fruit
  • Sodas: Inca Kola, Colombiana, Coke Mexico, Sprite Mexico, Fanta Mexico

Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com

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