Ah-Gusto: Simple, high-quality seafood dishes in La Perla
Caracoles a la piedra is one of the flagship dishes of Ah-Gusto.
By Sheila Jeanneau
Photos by Jorge Ochoa Rebaza
September 28, 2012
On a residential street in La Perla, a district of Callao, you will find the unassuming restaurant called Ah-Gusto. As you enter, you are greeted by Sr. Augusto Kague who, with his Japanese wife, Julia Nakandakari, founded this restaurant 33 years ago. The day of our visit, this modest locale was bustling. Most of the customers appeared to be people from offices in the surrounding area. I was told that the weekdays are very busy at Ah-Gusto and during the weekend there is less of a crowd.
We began our dining experience with caracoles a la piedra. Six caracoles (snails) arrive in their shells and bathed in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and ginger. You are given thin skewers to use to remove the snail from its shell. We enjoyed the slightly chewy texture with the Asian flavors. This is the "flagship" dish of Ah-Gusto and the most sold in the restaurant.
The day we visited Ah-Gusto, the cooks were using the delicious, mild white fish called charela, a relative of bass. This is a fish that we are seeing at more and more restaurants throughout Lima instead of the more expensive varieties of white fish such as lenguado (flounder). This day we were served three dishes using charela.
The first was the tiradito. The thinly sliced charela was served in a sauce of aji amarillo and accompanied by yuca, corn and sweet potato.
The second dish using charela was the pescado en salsa Ah-Gusto. The fish was bathed in a rich sauce of crabmeat, shrimp, ají amarillo, garlic, onions and a touch of cream.
The third plate was charela emperador. This dish was one of my favorites. The large fillet of charela was perfectly cooked using soy sauce, ginger, oyster sauce and other Asian ingredients and topped off with a generous sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. The fish was served on a bed of shredded lettuce.
Ah-Gusto is also known for its octopus dishes, which made me happy since I am a fan of octopus. Pulpo al olivo is a very popular dish found in most Peruvian restaurants. I found Ah-Gusto's version to be excellent. The octopus slices were tender and the sauce was a perfect blend of black olives, olive oil, lime juice and egg. The sauce had the consistency of an extremely creamy mayonnaise.
The pulpo a la navarra is Ah-Gusto's version of muchame. It so popular that it was chosen to be served at the restaurant’s Mistura booth in 2011. Once again I found the octopus to be perfectly tender. The slices of octopus were dressed in olive oil, oregano and vinegar and served with thin slices of creamy avocado underneath the octopus and tomato slices.
I enjoyed the simplicity of both octopus dishes. On my return visits to this restaurant I have ordered both of these dishes and found them to be of the same high standard.
I have returned to Ah-Gusto on several occasions due to its close proximity to my house. On one visit we decided to order the aji relleno, which was one of the featured dishes served at Mistura last year. It was a deliciously rich dish that we devoured. After the ají amarillo pepper is cut open and the seeds and veins are removed, the pepper is filled with a mixture of processed seafood and cheese. The peppers are then fried and covered in the Ah-Gusto sauce and accented with fried wontons. This Ah-Gusto sauce that accompanies the peppers begins with a base of crabmeat and shrimp as well as garlic, onions, cream, ají amarillo paste and a few other ingredients. The end result is a delicious, creamy seafood mixture. I enjoyed this dish so much that I recently "recreated" the dish for a family party in my home with great results. It was time consuming, but worth the effort.
I keep returning to Ah-Gusto for the simplicity and consistency of the high-quality food and environment. It is also a nice perk that it is easy on the pocketbook.
Jr. Ramon Castillo 568
La Perla, Callao
Hours: Tues. - Sun. 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Small private dining area available
House Specialties: S./17-45
Main Dishes: S./16-45
Wine: S./36-65 per bottle or S./9 per glass
Rice Dishes: S./20-35 soles
Total coments: 2
Commented By: Californio
On: September 29, 2012
Great article Sheila......well-written..,great photos! We're jealous you live so close to Ah-Gusto....while we're having ho-hum food over here. Looking at the photos we got some ideas on how to fix fish with oyster sauce.,soy sauce and ginger. Thanks for great reporting.
Commented By: gdurant
On: September 29, 2012
very good food.
Leave a comment. It will be sent to a moderator for approval. We do not publish profanity or offensive remarks. We only publish comments in English.