Restaurant reviews

Restaurant review: Wallqa

Sheila Christensen Jeanneau

A young chef leads a team of Lima Cordon Bleu graduates to achieve a menu and service that is fresh, bold, and sophisticated.

Restaurant review: Wallqa

Sweet potato ravioli at Wallqa (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

Located beside the Lima Cordon Bleu culinary school in Miraflores, Wallqa was once an “under the radar” restaurant. People knew about it, enjoyed meals there, but typically you did not hear much about it. That all started to change last year with the arrival of Lima Cordon Bleu graduate, Chef Giacomo Bocchio. Not only was he involved in the extensive decor and restaurant renovations to the bar, lounge and dining areas, but the menu was revamped as well. All of these changes gave this modern bistro a much needed boost of sophistication.

For the past seven years that it has been open, Wallqa has gone under the direction of various head chefs, though currently rests in the very capable hands of 32-year-old Bocchio. I initially met Chef Bocchio with the team of Living in Peru five years ago when he opened his family-owned and managed Miraflores restaurant, Manifiesto. Giacomo impressed the hell out of us at that time with his culinary knowledge, variety of experiences (including internships at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain and D.O.M. in Sao Paolo, Brazil under the tutelage of world-renowned chef, Alex Ayala, plus culinary stints at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida) and insights, high energy, creativity, innovation, and his overall culinary passion – especially for a then 27-year-old chef. After several years, Manifiesto eventually closed its doors and Chef Bocchio went on to participate in a few other culinary adventures.

I was happy to see that five years since we first met, the charming Giacomo exuded more confidence and possessed even more passion for his new culinary role at Wallqa. Chef Bocchio brings his dedication, passion and artistic talents to Wallqa, likely to bring in renewed interest and bustling business.

wallqa
(Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

With Chef Bocchio at the helm, the kitchen is bustling with talented chefs who are all graduates of the Lima Cordon Bleu. Occasionally culinary students are invited into this kitchen to practice skills and participate on some level. As well, all of the customer service of Wallqa is in the very capable hands of the graduates.

One of the nice features of the restaurant is the large kitchen which is showcased behind the glass window where diners can observe the chefs at work. Another plus of the dining area is the distribution of tables which are not too close together which allows for private conversation and the comfort of diners. A small, private dining area is also available.

The new menu creations at Wallqa are bold and creative, offering a fine dining experience with Peruvian fusion cuisine that incorporates many French techniques. The food is sophisticated, but not intimidating. The portions are quite generous and the prices (S/ 25-42) extremely generous for the quality of the dining experience you receive.

The menu is divided into three categories: “Para Ensayer” (For Testing), 11 starters; “Para Experimentar” (To Experiment), 11 main dishes; and “Para Concluir” (To Conclude), 5 desserts.

tiradito
Tiradito de atun curado (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

The day of our visit we shared 10 very unique and special dishes from the Wallqa spring menu. We began with several dishes from the starters menu, Para Ensayer. Pleasing to the eye and the palate, the tiradito de atun curado (cured tuna tiradito) consisted of fresh slices of yellow fin tuna, cured in salt and sugar then served with a creamy avocado purée infused with leche de tigre, cushuru, cilantro peperonata, and lush sea urchin, all accented with canchita and watercress leaves. Sea urchin, at times, can be a bit intense and overwhelming in flavor, but in this particular dish I found it to have a gentler flavor and texture. The use of cushuru added another dimension to this dish. Cushuru is a native Peruvian product which can be found in the high altitudes of the Andean mountains. This miracle algae, sometimes referred to as “Caviar Andino,” is comprised of 95% water which is soaked up from the moist ground. It also has one of the highest concentrations of protein in the world as well as a high concentration of other minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus. This dish evoked freshness and all of the unique flavors and textures made this one of my favorite dishes of our culinary experience at Wallqa.

salad
Multicolored, organic heirloom cherry tomatoes (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

The ensalada de tomates (tomato salad), with its organic heirloom cherry tomatoes (yellow, red and green in color), balsamic vinaigrette, greens, fried yucca, and grated dehydrated Andean cheese, came together nicely. It was a wonderfully light and flavor-packed dish. A must to order if you like tomatoes.

The hits kept coming…We sampled the six plump siu mai dumplings which were filled with oxtail meat and shrimp, served with an exquisite hoisin oxtail sauce accented with sesame seeds. We then moved on to the unique ravioli con impresión (printed ravioli): raviolis comprised of sweet potato, vanilla and orange with a sage butter and accented with a house-made dehydrated and cured beef (biltong molido).

pepper
Rocoto relleno atop creamy quinoa with cecina (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

We were curious to try Wallqa’s version of rocoto rellena, a medium-sized hot rocoto pepper filled with a beef ragout, a creamy quinua with cecina (smoky pork which has been salted and dried from the jungle) and a veal glacé. I think I may have been more enamored with the quinua and its creamy and smoky flavors than the actual stuffed pepper.

From the menu of main dishes, Para Experimentar, we began with the carrilleras a la cazadora de porcon (pork cheek) which was another plate filled with intense flavors and textures. Pork cheeks rendered tender by braising them for a long time in a earthy Porcon mushroom sauce, accompanied by pumpkin squash tortellini to give the dish a bit of sweetness. This was a unique dish.

lamb
Silla de cordero pairs lamb with cheesy mashed potatoes (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

One of my personal favorites was the silla de cordero (saddle of lamb). The “saddle” contains both sides of the lamb loin with the backbone attached. This loin of lamb was tender and cooked rare and prepared sous vide (to evenly cook the meat and keep it moist), served with sautéed vegetables, as well as a paria cheese aligot (a French technique of blending cheese into mashed potatoes which typically have cream and butter) and in this case they used Andean cheese. The potato mixture was accented with a dusting of caramelized onion “tierra” or powder. Out of all the dishes we sampled this day, this stood out most definitely as a “comfort food” dish.

The sudado de pescado y calamar (poached fish and squid) was perfectly poached catch of the day (the mild charela) along with slices of squid, sliced tomatoes and onions, plenty of chicha de jora (the fermented corn beverage), aji amarillo, native potatoes and accompanied by rice with corn mixed in. Once again a flavor-packed dish, yet one that embraced its simplicity. We enjoyed this dish immensely.

dessert
Pasión de chocolate, a mouthwatering dessert platter (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

To conclude our dining experience at Wallqa, we sampled two exquisite desserts. Our table devoured the pasión de chocolate, an interesting and decadent dessert which showcased three chocolate textures: pieces of chocolate cake (with a brownie-like texture), a chocolate crema catalana (baked custard) and a fudge ice cream with a liberal touch of coffee in it (so delicious that we requested another scoop of it later). This dessert platter was accented with liberal amounts of a cremeux de chocolate (not quite a sauce nor is it a mousse, it’s somewhere in-between a chocolate pudding) and artfully scattered seasonal strawberries, aguaymantos and raspberries.

The chirimoya fruit lovers at our table really enjoyed the derrumbado de chirimoya: orange wedges, a limoncello cream, chirimoya ice cream, fresh slices of the exotic chirimoya fruit and a passionfruit sauce. I am not typically a fan of chirimoya, but I adored this dessert.

It is with great anticipation I look forward to returning soon to experience the new summer menu creations at Wallqa that will begin within the next couple of weeks. I may even order their tasting menu which is available all day. I feel that Wallqa has entered a new era. Much continued success to Chef Bocchio and the Wallqa team. Wallqa is indeed creative Peruvian cuisine.

Wallqa
Av. Vasco Núñez de Balboa 530
Miraflores

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Phone: 242-9619
617-8300 anexo 8330
reservas@lecole.pe
Capacity: 70 persons
Reservations accepted
Limited parking
Private room available

Lunch: Monday thru Friday 12:45 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday/Sunday: 12:45 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Dinner: Monday thru Thursday: 7:45 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday/Saturday: 7:45 p.m.-11:00 p.m.

Starters: S/ 25-34
Main dishes: S/ 35-42
Salads: S/ 27
Desserts: S/ 24
Kids menu: S/ 23
Tasting Menu (8 dishes): S/ 125
Full Bar
Extensive Wine list

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