CANCHITA | Peruvian-Mexican Brunch in Dempsey’s Lush Greenery
Located on the corner of Dempsey Hill, CANCHITA embodies the vibrant energy of Latin America through its modern Peruvian cuisine, colourful interiors and upbeat salsa music. Having opened their doors for more than a year, the owner-chefs Tamara and Daniel Chavez are introducing diners to a brunch menu with dishes that are staples in Mexico and Peru.
We were told that CANCHITA serves interesting cocktails and ordered a different one each to try. We had the Pisco Punch, Passion Margarita and Sangria Latina. I liked the Pisco Punch best as it was lighter and sweeter, consisting of Pisco Quebranta, pineapple, lemon, orange, honey and soda. Sangria is an often-featured drink in Latin America and a good choice for someone going for the full experience.
Onto the food, we started off with this Tostada de Pulpo. A crispy corn tortilla, stuffed with black beans, “nopales” cactus salad and fresh cheese. The base was more substantial compared to a typical taco given that the tortilla has been fried and can therefor hold the sauces and ingredients well.
We also tried several of their ceviches, which were the dishes that I looked forward to the most when planning my visit to CANCHITA. I’m glad that they did not disappoint. The first is the Ceviche Clasico – a classic recipe market fish with white tiger’s milk, red onions, sweet potato and canchita. This is my favourite amongst those that I have tried due to how well the flavours go together.
Another recommended ceviche is the Vuelve A La Vida – a mix of prawns, fish, calamari and crab with tomato tiger’s milk and served with a crispy corn tortilla. The base for this ceviche is sweet and sour because of the tomato and reminded us of a Thai dressing when we first ate it. A good ceviche to whet your appetite due to the tangy flavours.
The Agua Chile Negro is a ceviche for those who prefer something more adventurous. Hokkaido scallops are marinated and served in black squid ink tiger’s milk, chalaquita, cucumber and canchita. Unique and refreshing – just be careful of your white shirts / light coloured clothing!
We also tried a couple of their tacos. Here, we had the Barbacoa – grilled NZ Lamb Rack in borracha sauce and cactus salad sitting atop a taco shell. I do not usually take lamb so I had a smaller serving and lamb was not too gamey. My pick would be the El Matador – australian beef tenderloin with guacamole, fries and onion salad with the same taco shell.
To round off the savouries, we had the Pescado a la Talla – market fish with adobo and parsley sauce, served with green salad and oranges. Chef suggested that we take the green salad, oranges and fish in a bite. The citrus sharpness from the orange was a good contrast to the richer adobo and parsley sauce. If you aren’t full by then, the fries will provide you with additional carbs.
We ended our meal with the Tres Leches, a moist coconut cake soaked in three kinds of milk for hours before being served with strawberries and copious amounts of pastry cream. It was a little sweet for us but perhaps you have a sweeter tooth than we do! Do note that Canchita has 3 different dining areas – the Amazon room, the Inca room and the outdoor terrace. We dined in the Amazon room where you can see the lush greenery and it felt like you were dining in the Amazonian jungle, hence its name. However, we would love to dine at the Inca room on our next visit as it looked quieter and suited for smaller groups. If you have a preference as to where you would like to be seated, do indicate when making reservations. Budget per person: $30 to $40 per person