Pan Pacific Perth
207 Adelaide Terrace, Perth
Ph: (08) 6211 7221
A Tasty tonic
Uma Restaurant ought to come with a warning for your tastebuds. It’s bold, it’s beautiful and serves up a punch of powerful Peruvian flavours that Perth diners have never tasted before.
Pan Pacific Perth’s hotel general manager Rob Weeden noticed the rise of Peruvian cuisine on menus in Dubai and London. Recognising a gap in the Perth market, he recruited Peruvian executive chef Alejandro Saravia to open Uma Restaurant at Pan Pacific Perth in January 2019. It’s paid off, as not only were we ready for a new taste sensation, especially one without gimmicks, but one that is also healthy.
Peruvian cuisine is often gluten-free and is known for its metabolism-boosting qualities due to the fresh and easily digestible ingredients such as chilli and citrus.
The marinade used in Peruvian ceviche, known as tiger’s milk (leche de tigre), is commonly drunk as a shot every morning. It’s a breakfast of champions spruced with chillies, lemon and lime juice and, with a zero-waste philosophy, leftover ingredients are often added to the mixture.
Peruvian chillies are collectively known as aji, and Alejandro imports several varieties directly from Peru. Wondering if you can handle the heat? While aji are packed with peppery flavour, they impart a smoky smoothness when paired with other ingredients. Hand on heart, while your tastebuds will be roused like a sensuous salsa, the roof of your mouth will remain intact.
On a chilly winter’s day (with chilli being the operative word) chef Xeres Bodhanwala, who goes by the name of X, guided us through the streets of Lima and the ocean, paddocks and valleys of Peru. X and Alejandro work closely together to present a sustainable menu based on the seasons and local produce.
We soon discovered that Peru has more than 400 traditional dishes and that there are many varieties of ceviche and an astounding 3000 native varieties of potatoes.
Using sustainable practices and simple cooking techniques, such as cooking over hot coals, Peruvian cuisine has been influenced by its Spanish, African, Japanese and Chinese immigrants. Japanese influences are evident on Uma Restaurant’s menu especially with the Tiradito Nikkei, a standout dish of thinly sushi-cut Fremantle Albacore tuna, jalapenos, dashi and aji mirasol dressing.
Ceviche is traditionally prepared in the morning as a way of preserving seafood and the house specialty Ceviche Peruano of Shark Bay Gold Band Snapper, leche de tigre, with ribbons of charred sweet corn and caramelised sweet potato is lively on the palate.
The locally sourced seafood platter of Jalea Real was like a mini coastal break with Abrolhos Island scallops basking in passionfruit and mango and rock lobster in a kombucha of aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chilli), Spanish onion, avocado, lemon and lime juice, ginger and coriander. Any decorum was abandoned as we tore apart the crabs’ legs blanched in the flavoursome stock of apple cider.
The Causa de Pulpo was an innovative octopus terrine set on a cold potato mash (causa mix) with pickled tomatoes and kalamata olive paste.
Teamed with the 2017 Alamos Torrontes (Salta, Argentina), these dishes were an explosive delight in the mouth with an acidic zing of peach, pineapple and spice.
Brushed in a mix of sweet aji panca, herbs and spices, the charcoaled Anticucho de Ternera (beef skewers) had a smoky tenderness that seeped into a bed of potato puree. With an African influence, offal is often used in this dish in Peru, but at Uma Restaurant we’re assured Treeton Farm beef rump is used instead. The beef skewers and other snacks (piqueos) are also available at Bar Uma next door, home of the Peruvian spirit Pisco Sour.
A sauce of tomato, soy sauce and two chillies – the aji amarillo and aji mirasol – gave the Red Spot Emperor used in the Pescado a salty and understated heat.
The beef and fish were teamed with the 2017 las Perdices Malbec Rose (Mendoza, Argentina) and the subtle citrus notes allowed the ingredients to shine without overpowering them. This wine is also a good match with the alpaca croquettes and pork belly.
The 2018 Alamos Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) was a rich match with the 100% grass-fed 30-day dry-aged Gingin Farm beef ribeye served with a housemade kombucha mustard. The papas was a side dish of coffee salt-baked potatoes in seasonal herbs with whey and burnt butter sauce and left us in awe of this ingenious pairing.
The Budin de Pan tasted like a mix between a crème caramel and bread pudding and was baked until it developed the texture of custard. Infused with blackcurrants marinated in rum and sherry vinegar, the julienned lemon rinds added a fresh zest to the smokiness of the dessert, especially with the 2017 Juniper Cane Cut Riesling (Margaret River, Western Australia).
Eating is a social event in Peru and the dishes at Uma Restaurant are designed to be shared and deliberated over. Open for candlelit dinner from 6pm Tuesday to Saturday, the four-course Ceviche Experience ($58 pp), Uma Journey ($68 pp) and Pre-Theatre Menu ($49 pp) are incredible value.
By now the thought of squeezing in another bite seemed impossible, but we thankfully soldiered on and the Peruvian caramel sandwiched between corn flour shortbread (Alfajor Peruano) ended the feast on a sweet note.
Complimentary valet parking is included with all reservations. A Peruvian Journey includes dinner at Uma Restaurant and a stay at Pan Pacific Perth for $235 per night, plus the opportunity to float around the hotel’s heated pool that Uma Restaurant overlooks. Breakfast is served in bed or at Montereys Brasserie, along with an a la carte menu or dinner buffet. Other dining options include bar food, happy hours, a pool table and craft beers, including the locally brewed Hill St. Lager, at the Hill Street Bar. The refurbished Lobby Lounge is a lovely place to relax and enjoy some treats from the patisserie, including High Tea.
by Carmen Jenner