Saturday, February 2, 2013

Las Brasas Does Some Decent Peruvian

The idea of Las Brasas, a shopping-center Peruvian restaurant on Sunrise Highway at Brentwood Road, has been marinating in my brain for quite some time. It's kind of like a sleeper cell in there next to the awesome aquarium store that has an alligator. It's unassuming and kind of hard to judge from the outside. There's next to no info on the Interweb except for like four reviews on Yelp. I wanted to do a drive by through the parking lot to scope it out up close, but Dad didn't get that memo before parking on the side of the building. We were out of the car and totally committed. 

Anyway, Las Brasas has your typical Peruvian menu. Rotisserie chicken in the portion size of your preference, french fries and salad. An assortment of chicken or seafood and rice dishes, and a few sandwiches. They also have a few different ceviches. The four of us went for 1/2 a chicken, a chaufa de pollo dish, a ceviche de mariscos and an order of salchipapas. I took a plunge and ordered a drink called Peruvian purple corn juice. Yes, purple drank from Peru. Our waiter informed me that it did not contain alcohol. 
The chicken above was moist and delicious under its golden-brown skin. It came with lots of crispy fries and a small side of salad. I love the creamy dressing these Peruvians always use, and  the avocado on top. This salad wasn't nearly as good as the one at Pio Pio, but it was acceptable. The lettuce was fresh. The ceviche de mariscos had a mix of shrimp, octopus and a white fish, probably sea bass, in a simple marinade of lime juice and onions. The waiter asked if we wanted it spicy. I said "yes, a little spicy." It wasn't. Also on the dish were huge Peruvian corn kernels done two ways: boiled and fried, and fried yucca. This was really tasty. This dish is prepared fresh, and as time went by you could witness the process; the seafood got tougher as it contracted in the acidity. Technically, this process is called denaturation. That's not important.

Ah, the salchipapas. A staple in any Peruvian restaurant. You can't really skip a plate of fries topped with fried hot-dog pieces. NO ONE is above this. The hot dog here was a little greasy, but, duh.
And the chaufa de pollo. This is basically arroz con pollo. It had chicken, egg, scallion and probably some onion. We were the first table of the day for the place, but by the time we left there were four more tables, and every one had a some variation of this dish. 

Where Las Brasas lacked just a bit in ambiance, it made up for in unique ingredients. The room was decorated in bright Peruvian paintings and bathed in the sounds pan flute, but food was served on plastic dishes and drinks in styrofoam. The menu, however, impressed with such authentic ingredients like the mutant Peruvian corn and drinks like Inca Kola and chicha morada. The purple drink was served cold and was very sweet. It's actually made out of purple corn and sweetened with fruit like pineapple and spiced cloves. They also have a small selection of beer. 

You can tell that the owners of Las Brasas are passionate about Peruvian culture. The paintings and music paired with Peruvian flags and a display case of crafts from the country for sale emanated a real sense of pride, and maybe a tinge of home-sickness. It may not be as refined as Pio Pio, but Las Brasas offers classics done well. What more could you need?

Las Brasas: 1754 Sunrise Highway, Bay Shore, NY. (631) 328-1563

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