Logan Square spot serves up Peru cuisine

March 23, 2012 9:48:35 AM PDT
South American food is typically associated with beef, and to some extent, potatoes.

But the food of Peru is less understood. There are only a handful of Peruvian restaurants in Chicago..

But he's found a new one in Logan Square that covers all of the bases.

Every cuisine has its building blocks, and in Peru, the foundation of nearly every meal features corn, as in large, purple kernels; chiles, such as the assertive aji Amarillo; and starchy potatoes. At 4 Suyos, a new Peruvian restaurant in Logan Square, ex-pats will tell you that you just have to begin a meal with an order of causa rellena.

"The appetizer is really famous in Lima. And it's a mashed potato, marinated in lemon with aji amarillo. And that goes with chicken salad," Humberto Trujillo, owner of 4 Suyos.

Pureed aji amarillo and fresh lime juice are combined with some cooked, roughly-mashed potatoes. Trujillo forms it into a thick disc on the plate, then he adds a layer of chicken salad, before finally adding another top layer of the seasoned mashed potatoes, which is topped with a boiled egg and black olive.

Ceviche morada features fresh seafood, such as shrimp, scallops, squid and tilapia, marinated and literally cooked in citrus juice with garlic and aji rocoto (a mild red pepper). But this Peruvian version is plated with two types of corn: the toasted cancha, as well as the large, white kernels called cuzco.. plus a large puck of sweet potato and a shower of seaweed.

In terms of entrees, the aji de gallina, or chilies with chicken, is one of the most famous dishes from Peru.

"Aji de gallina is one of the traditional dish in Lima actually. And it's used shredded chicken mixed with paste aji amarillo and garlic and onions. All together and walnuts as well," said Trujillo.

The most interesting part of the dish is the sauce, which contains pecans, milk and cheese, a clear nod to the brief European influences in the country. As for drinks, you could go with an Inca cola, but more tasty -- and a lot more interesting -- is the chicha morada, a sweetened beverage with corn as its base.

"Purple corn boiled with pineapple, apple, cinnamon and clove," he said.

Now brunch begins here next week, April 1. That is no joke, by the way. And you can be sure you're going to see plenty of corn, chiles and potatoes here every weekend.

The restaurant is also BYOB, in case you want to bring your own beer or wine.

4 Suyos 2727 W. Fullerton Ave. (773) 278-6525 www.4suyos.com