I stopped by on a whim yesterday after the pinball tournament at Rubik’s Arcade around 5:30pm and it was still busy!
I ran (literally) into Chef Tania next door at Don Carbon while waiting for a table, and mentioned to her that since the dining area at Amar was so busy maybe she should expand dining on the weekends to Don Carbon since it was empty and the owners own both locations. I mean, people were leaving because it’s just that popular and they couldn’t predict wait times since they were so new and they never want to rush their clients.
Why are they so popular? Well, it’s a beautiful space, but the food is the star. I’ve been to Peru and lived like a local in Lima and Ollantaymbo and I can tell you, it’s pretty close to the real deal considering Peruvian ingredients are pretty hard to source in El Paso. That beautiful Andean corn, the sweet potato, even the aji pepper is from Peru!
I ordered 2 plates and of course had to have my favorite dessert alfajores (they’re hard to make, I tried). The alfajores came in 3 to my surprise with 3 different toppings mix (coconut, dulce de leches, and nuts).
The mixta (mixed seafood) ceviche was everything I was looking for. Peruvian cuisine a master class in mixed textures and Chef Tania did a great job with a mix of raw clams, white fish, octopus, shrimp and cooked calamari and cancha (Andean toasted chulpe corn), sweet potato, and Andean corn on the cob, and topped with sliced Aji chili peppers.
The fish tasted fresh, the octopus was perfectly tender, the potato wasn’t mushy, the cancha and calamari provided the crunch and the marinade was sour and creamy just like I remember in Lima. The creaminess comes from the splash of coconut milk Peruvians put in their ceviche, and if it was in Lima, the reserve will be saved for a special drink called Leche De Tigre, which is delicious and apparently an elixir for erm, potency. I was tempted to drink my plate because it was that delicious. Lol
The lomo saltado was on point as well, the meat was generous and (we got medium rare), the tomatoes were thickly sliced so you can taste the char of the wok-I saw the cook working the wok fire and getting the right wok hei (breath of the wok), and the fries and rice sopped up the delicious soy based sauce. The only thing that I would improve is the Jasmine rice. It wasn’t cooked properly and still a little raw and hard.
I also got the chicha morada, and it tasted like it was from a syrup and Americanized, so it was very sweet. In Ollantaymbo I made some myself and it was slightly sweet and almost tannic flavored, like tea, and highly fermented.
I was hoping for causa and it would be amazing if we had some Eggs Benedict with causa since the sauce it comes with reminds me a lot of Hollandaise.
Service was friendly and busy as it was they topped up my water and made sure we were happy with our food. Prices were amazing considering the quality and quantity of food we got.
This is a great addition to El Paso and I look forward to trying more dishes here.
3100 N Mesa St, El Paso, TX 79902