The fall season has arrived and sweaters are brought out as easily as flip-flops in this time of coolness. Cold nips gently at the earlobes and a deep craving for filling meals are yearned by the belly. The season welcomes the luxury of getting fat and this being California, getting fat means multi-cultural feasting. Located near the beach but fitting the vibe of Retro Row in Long Beach is a brick-and-mortar restaurant filled with the spice of citrus and seafood in the air. This place is Aji Peruvian Cuisine.
Walking into Aji Peruvian Cuisine is walking into a festive summer night. The brick building holds large wooden tables stained in deep browns. The ceiling is vaulted high and the juxtaposition of wood and brick with industrial style lighting brings a feeling of shelter to this open dining hall. When night falls the house lights hush and the warm glow of dropped lighting coo each diner into a sense of comfort and it’s with this setting in place intimate mastication is ready to begin.
The service is a classy affair with each server coming with a brilliant smile. Once seated they will speak of the menu as a warm friend would welcome another. There is love for the place and a pride of the food being created. Whether it’s recommendations for beginning bites or the finishing touches for a fantastic meal the servers got you covered.
Peruvian cuisine is a great collection of the regional tastes most people associate with Latin flavors but with an Asian twist. With a strong influence by Chinese cultures in Peru, it isn’t strange to see fried rice along ceviche on the table. It is the spice of variation before fusion was a culinary movement and that’s why the use of the word “aji” (spicy sauce) shouldn’t be surprising when used to describe most Peruvian cuisine. Take the ceviche for example. Ceviche is one of those signature recipes almost all Latin countries have, each with their own take. Peruvian ceviche is perhaps one of the best. With some of the freshest ingredients, both in seafood and in citrus notes, Aji Peruvian Cuisine’s take on it is like a steakhouse’s take on the filet mignon: the quality takes precedence over the quantity. Though the amount might not seem enough, when you bite into it and slowly appreciate each bite you come to an understanding that there is such a thing as too much good stuff. The ceviche is a great starter for both solo dining and company. The lomo saltado is another popular dish well associated with Peru. Combining the deliciousness of fat cut fries and the mouth watering savoriness of sauteed onions, bell peppers, and beef means you fill up on another multicultural creation. Of course, going to a place with the word “aji” in it means you have to have their aji sauce they create in house. It is a mix between rich spices of peppers and a creaminess that is hard to describe. It comes in both a colorful green and orange but regardless of the tint it is a great addition to any dish.
As the trees transition to their autumn shades and the weather cools down it’s great to know Southern California still has the feel of an endless summer in the fall. It is a great time to let your tummy start taking over your diet and let your wanderlust travel through by senses. Though we can’t all afford to travel the world to dine at some of the best restaurants it’s great to know sometimes the best places are right at home. Whether you wandered in through your stroll down 4th Street or you planned on having a nice evening together Aji Peruvian Cuisine is a fantastic place to dine.
Aji Peruvian Cuisine
2308 E 4th Street
Long Beach, CA 90814