Editor’s Note: Uchu is closed.
Uchu’s location is deceptive. Set in the corner of a Plymouth strip mall, the dining room is a simple, food court-like space. But a gigantic open kitchen with a blazing stainless steel range herald what will arrive on your plate: flavorful seafood-centered Peruvian cuisine.
Owner and head chef Jorge Armando Sarmiento (above) comes from coastal Peru and has been working in restaurants for 14 years. He calls his month-old restaurant “Uchu” after the Incan Quechuan word for pepper, three types of which he highlights throughout the menu.
Sarmiento’s food is certainly an ode to perfect heat, as well as texture. Both themes were well executed in almost everything we tried. The Arroz con Mariscos ($15), a pinkish paella-like dish, is a quilt of textures including soft, sweet scallops, flexy little squids, mussels, and tender curls of shrimp. Even the rice has personality, marked by an even, mouth-filling heat from the uchu panca.
The menu features several criolla (or creole) dishes that reflect the patchwork immigrant culture of Peru. True to this distinction, the flavor profile of the criolla dish called Tacu Tacu ($14) leans toward that of a soy sauce-based Asian stir-fry. A smoky mixture of rice and fat red beans is topped with decent strips of steak and sidled by two delicately sweet griddled plantains. The only quirk is the extra-hard fried egg that disappoints where it might otherwise enhance.
The Pescado ($12) is one of four ceviches on the menu. Firm chunks of tilapia marinated in lime juice are served alongside a scattering of white corn and cold, ghostly yams. The combination of citrus-spiked fish, sweet yam, and some crunchy red onions is wondrous and totally weird. It’s possibly the best example of the way Peruvian food can shoot off in a million directions at once and still land on target.
Of the rather pricey appetizers, the Papa a la Huancaina ($6.50) is the most affordable. It celebrates the sturdy tubers found high in the Andes of Peru. Cold, boiled potatoes are covered in a creamy queso fresco sauce, amped by the garlicky warmth of the uchu amarillo. Its bland appearance gives way to a strangely refreshing taste — a quiet way to start your meal.
And for dessert is the Trilogia Limena, an adorable trio of puddings, which is a great deal at only $6. On our visit, the Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) could’ve used more spices and fat, but the Mazamorra Morada (purple corn pudding) was pleasant and cool, like a chunky, homemade applesauce. The Suspiro a la Limena (caramel pudding) was the sweetest of them all, but smooth and toasty, topped with a melty cloud of meringue.
Uchu might not be the most affordable or romantic spot to stop in Plymouth, but it fills a gap in Minneapolis-St. Paul’s grand old lineup of Latin American joints. And, in addition to a collection of deliciously strange bites, a visit to Uchu might just get you a tableside visit from the chef himself, who’ll wisely suggest you saute your leftovers slowly on the stove in a pan of oil.
Peruvian cuisine in Plymouth, MN
4130 Berkshire Ln N
Plymouth, MN 55446
OWNER / CHEF: Jorge Sarmiento
Tue-Thu 11-2pm and 4-9pm
Fri 11-2pm and 4-10pm
BAR: Beer (Wine license in the works)
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: Yes / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $12-$15
sounds really good, i must try it!
I went there and it was fantastic!
Oh man, I hope this is decent Peruvian food. My husband (born in Peru) and I have been searching all over for a Peruvian restaurant since Macchu Pichu closed–which wasn’t all that impressive, at least toward the end. Going this weekend!
I had the pleasure of stumbling on this little gem shortly before they opened and had the exciting pleasure of rediscovering today that it was now open. I had not had Peruvian food until today. I asked the waitress to surprise us on the appetizer and my entree. I was greeted with Causa Trio for appetizer and the Tacu Tacu mentioned above. I will disagree with the author, I think the firm egg played well with the texture of the dish; having a soft fried egg would only clash with the textures of the rice, beans and plantain. Lets I forget, the unsung hero of that dish was the red onions!
My husband and me were to eat in Uchu. It was awesome! My Im peruvian and my husband is Indian, He was so impressed about Lomito saltado (a dish with beef). In fact, it was very very tasty. As peruvian, I should say that is one of the best lomitos that I tried in my life! Cheff and all personal are very nice. Peruvian food can take some time to be ready (even in Peru). You will wait a little (not too much really) but you’ll enjoy real peruvian taste. Congratulations Uchu!! Que viva el Peru!!!
We did end up going on Friday. A note about the tacu-tacu–they must have taken note about the egg, as ours was nice and runny. My husband tells me that it’s served yolky in Peru so you can mix it up into the tacu-tacu. It was delicious. Our kids got salchipapas that were not on the menu, but which a friendly waitress tipped us off to. The pescado frito was delectable–hard to believe it was fried. It was smooth, light, just delicious. I had the aji de gallina. I’m spoiled–my mother-in-law’s aji de gallina is otherworldly, so for me, this fell short. The texture, to me, was too chunky, and the sauce just didn’t have the same richness and saltiness that hers does. My husband had the lomo saltado and would agree with Cinthya, that it was terrific. I’ve learned, after trying to master Peruvian cuisine in my own kitchen, that such praise from a native Peruvian is very hard to come by. So a great recommendation. We also tried the dessert reviewed above, and it was wonderful, though I only got a single bite from each dessert dish (my kids devoured it). It was kind of empty around dinner time on a Friday night. Let’s spread the word and help Uchu succeed!
Our dinner was amazing but lunch was a different story. The lunch food needs to be the same quality as dinner dishes even if the menu is different. I will be back. I really want this restaurant to succeed, perhaps it would help if the outdoor sign is lit so people don’t keep missing it at night.
I second the “exterior sign needs to be lighted” comment. It absolutely does. It is almost invisible in that strip mall at night without illumination, especially because it’s in a corner.
We’ve eaten several times at Uchu and have never been disappointed. We had our intro to Peruvian food in Peru some four years ago, so were delighted to learn of Uchu.
Yesterday, we had a wonderful Chupa — can’t find the name of it, but it was a clam-based soup with rice, occasional chunks of potatoes, tomato, and delicately enhanced with uchu panko. It was FANTASTIC!!
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