SuViche Blends Asian and Peruvian Cuisine for American Palates

It's a busy Friday night in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and a group of college-aged women has congregated around a covered outdoor bar to take advantage of the week's final happy hour. They order a round of shots, slim glasses filled to the brim with a rainbow collage of red, yellow, and green gummy bears immersed in a clear liquid.

"What's this called again?" a bubbly brunet asks the bartender. "Pico?"

The drink in question is the fiery grape brandy known as pisco, and the establishment that serves it is also Fort Lauderdale's very first pisco bar, compliments of 2-month-old SuViche, one of the city's newest restaurants riding the wave of Peruvian popularity.

In the past few years, a new style of Peruvian cuisine has emerged, forged by some of Lima's leading chefs, such as Gastón Acurio and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. SuViche' co-owners Aliosha and Andrei Stern spotted the trend, recognizing that while foodie cities across the United States have celebrated Peruvian fare, South Florida — despite its abundance of Latin American influence — has been trapped in the shadow of a traditional approach to the colorful cuisine.

All of that is changing with the Sterns' Miami-based SuViche, a clever play on words. "Su" denotes the sushi portion of the menu, and "Viche" is a nod to the restaurant's many takes on the raw-fish dish ceviche.

In 2010, Andrei — at the time finishing his business degree — was already strategizing ideas for his own enterprise. Looking around his Brickell neighborhood, he realized the dearth of affordable dining options available to those looking for something fast, healthy, and affordable. He decided to do something about it.

Aliosah Stern, co-founder of SuViche.
Aliosah Stern, co-founder of SuViche.
Photo by CandaceWest.com

"I wanted to start a business on my own and began doing research on what was trending in the restaurant industry," Andrei recalls. "I wanted something more accessible and not as expensive as most Miami eateries are. And I wanted something health-conscious."

Rather than create another in-and-out concept, the Miami native built something that was neither sit-down nor fast-food nor fast-casual, but a seamless blend of all three. Like the food, SuViche's concept is also a modern fusion.

The menu represents a new wave of Peruvian cuisine, compliments of Lima-based chef and restaurateur Jaime Pesaque. Through mutual friends, Andrei was introduced to Pesaque, the man behind several celebrated eateries, including Mayta (a modern Peruvian restaurant with locations in Lima and Hong Kong) and Nuna Restaurant (a similar concept in Punta del Este, Uruguay).

Today, Pesaque stands as executive chef of SuViche, delivering his modern, cutting-edge cuisine to South Florida.

Lomo Saltado
Lomo Saltado
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Where most local Peruvian restaurants can be stagnant and boring, SuViche has become the cool-kid spot, born on the streets of Miami. In the past five years, the name has expanded rapidly with locations in the heart of Miami Beach, the colorful artists' enclave in the city's Wynwood neighborhood, and now Broward County with a fourth location that opened several weeks ago off Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

"We didn't want the customer to think, 'I'm eating at just another Peruvian place,' " Andrei says. "It's all things at once — a casual takeout spot that makes us popular with the lunch crowd. Or you can sit down and be in and out in 15 minutes or come later in the night or during happy hour and be here for several hours drinking and eating."

To that end, SuViche makes for a good time for those in hurry as well as those who have never had the guts to try Peru's most celebrated dish of raw marinated fish. Here, the ceviches skew toward experimental, some sweetened with soy or teriyaki sauce and garnished with crisp fried onions or wonton chips.

A stellar concoction is the SuViche ceviche, diced whitefish marinated in lime juice and one of Pesaque's own sauces. It's garnished in the usual Peruvian manner with canchita, camote, choclo, and wisps of thinly sliced red onion. But it's the sauce — a viscous puddle of opaque white liquid that remains after you've polished off the last of the fish — that gives this dish its hook, a milky-smooth marinade that's the ultimate leche de tigre, at once tart and sweet.

Rocoto Ceviche
Rocoto Ceviche
Photo by CandaceWest.com

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Lomo saltado, prepared with a choice of chicken, seafood, or beef, is also a popular Peruvian pick. Try it in its most traditional form: juicy strips of soy-marinated beef paired with onions, tomatoes, ají chili, and spices stir-fried until the beef turns melt-in-your-mouth tender and the vegetables meld into a robust gravy. It's served over a bed of rice and alongside fries — East and West on one plate, even if it's a little heavy on the carbs.

Diners looking for something lighter will find a reprieve with a side that's all about sushi. Here, even the rolls have their own twist, presented with atypical ingredients and flavor combinations, such as sushi paired with a creamy lomo or vibrant cilantro sauce instead of soy or eel sauce.

For those unfamiliar with Peruvian food, these Japanese flavors offer a gateway to many of the country's best-loved dishes, including tiraditos (slices of raw fish dressed with a number of flavorful sauces). A cultural climax takes place with La Cruda Verdad, a sushi roll that marries salmon, mango, and avocado for a refreshingly light bite inspired by local ingredients. Topped with ceviche-style marinated whitefish, it's a culinary love child of Peru and South Florida.

"SuViche is unique in that it blends Japanese and Peruvian cuisines in an environment that offers a more simple and approachable atmosphere," Andrei says. "We wanted to bring good food at an affordable price point. It's Peruvian food you can eat every day."

SuViche

401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from noon to midnight, and Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. Call 954-656-3663, or visit suviche.com.

  • Ceviche SuViche $11.95
  • La Cruda Verdad roll $12.50
  • Lomo saltado $12.95

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