Have you ever eaten llama while surrounded by artefacts in a museum? Well, that’s what it’s like at Mochica, a Peruvian restaurant on Montreal’s busy St-Denis Street, where good taste applies to the food as well as your general culture.
First thing you’ll notice is the stunning decor. An enormous white fresco depicting the Mochica culture covers the left wall, while bold Peruvian art calls for your attention. It’s totally unlike any other Montreal restaurant.
This was my first exploration of Peruvian cuisine, and I couldn’t have found a better place for it. The staff was extremely helpful in explaining the history, cuisine and culture of Peru. At Mochica, there are no simple waiters, the whole team of staff seems to have a background in anthropology! And yet, the service was impeccable and the food… amazing!
We started off with a pisco sour, which is Andean liquor (similar to grappa) mixed with lime juice. My cousin – who knows a thing or two about such matters after visiting several Chilean wineries – assured me that the pisco we had was of the finest quality.
As an appetizer, I just couldn’t pass up the ceviche. Large chunks of seafood, not too acidic, melted in my mouth. That was followed by a grilled veal heart brochette, which really surprised me. It tasted a little like liver, but more tender. This recipe comes from Peru’s Black community; their cuisine combining Spanish, Native American, Afro-Caribbean and Asian influences.
For the main dish: llama. And what a discovery! Braised in a sharp but not too spicy sauce, the meat was positively succulent. It was accompanied by some outstanding peeled wheat risotto.
The restaurant manager explained to me that Mochica is the only restaurant in all of Canada that serves llama meat. He also explained that all of the dry ingredients are imported directly from Peru – which he balances by using fresh produce from local farms. In fact, the llama I ate comes from the Eastern Townships (just a stone’s throw from Montreal).
For dessert, I ordered purple Inca corn pudding. This jellied dessert comes with exotic fruit and a hint of cinnamon. This of course was also a completely new experience for me, and very good.
So, I consider my first gastronomic tour of Peru a success. And before heading back to Mochica, I plan on cooking some quinoa. Any tips?
3863 Saint-Denis Street, Montreal, QC H2W 2M4
Hours of operation
Sunday to Thursday: 5 pm to 10 pm
Friday and Saturday: 5 pm to 11 pm
Average bill (before tax, alcohol and tip): $50 per person