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An authentic taste of Peru tucked away in Ventura

9 Apr 2013 11:28 AM
An authentic taste of Peru tucked away in Ventura

Latin culture and cuisine permeates much of southern California. For the most part this is due to the proximity of Mexico, but the influence extends well beyond that. In fact, a popular restaurant in Ventura allows diners to get a taste of Peru, a country whose cuisine is world-renowned but that has yet to gain much of a foothold in the U.S. That may change, however, as more people enjoy meals at Bonanos.

Although it hasn't been around for long - it opened in 2009 - this Peruvian restaurant has already garnered a base of devoted diners who have learned about the South American nation's cuisine through the eatery's authentic menu. In fact, many people enjoy a meal at Bonanos for its touristic pleasures. You may not be familiar with dishes like tamal de pollo or arroz chaufa mariscos, but the helpful staff is more than happy to explain them to you, and the talented chefs make even the most unfamiliar dishes seem comforting.

The truth is that most of the dishes at Bonanos will feel fairly familiar to diners, even those who have never stepped foot in Peru. Perfectly prepared rotisserie chicken appeals to everyone, and rice with filet mignon is a simple-but-elegant dish that almost anyone can get behind.

There are touches of luxury throughout the menu, though. In her review for the Ventura County Star, food critic Rita Moran discussed the surprising delight she took in a high-quality seafood dish.

"The fried calamari was addictive, with its crispy fried pieces in abundance and chunks of fried yucca arranged around a creamy dip sauce," she wrote.

It is the details, though, that make a trip to Bonanos such a unique visit. Dishes come paired with homemade sauces enlivened by fresh cilantro and chili peppers. Even when they are working with dishes that aren't far from the American palate, Bonanos' chefs make sure to include little touches and accents that provide a uniquely Peruvian flavor. Moran was pleased to find a sauteed shrimp dish complemented nicely by a bed of expertly seasoned meat, onions and tomatoes.

"It provided a pleasant introduction to Peruvian spices and herbs," she wrote.

Bonanos' savory dishes may draw the crowds, but the restaurant's desserts make sure they leave satisfied. Homemade ice cream and rich custards and caramels prove that Peruvian cuisine may seem exotic at first blush, but when done right, can satisfy even the most staunchly American stomachs.