Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dish on Dining: La Furia Chalaca

Offering Up Homey and Authentic Peruvian Cuisine
310 Broadway (at 3rd), Oakland
Jack London Square neighborhood
PH: 510.451.4206
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Major credit cards, reservations accepted

When I was wrapping up my post about my search for the best pisco sour drink in the Bay Area, I made one last stop at this Peruvian restaurant in Oakland because I figured where else would I find an authentic version of the national drink of Peru?

You can check out my post to see how La Furia Chalaca’s pisco sour ranked (sorry to say it wasn’t so authentic), but this post is all about the food at this tiny, almost divey seafood restaurant just north of Jack London Square.

Opened for a few years, La Furia can be easily missed on Broadway, with most people probably heading to Soizic next door. And from the outside, you can’t really tell it’s a restaurant so it’s a good thing they had an “Open!” sandwich board in front.

Unfortunately, in this quiet area of the neighborhood—which is seeing a rebirth with new condos and new restaurants opening—there are still a lot of street elements, like homeless people coming into the restaurant trying to ask for money. So these are some of the challenges La Furia faces, as well as for their diners.

The room has quite an old world feel with the dark wooden furnishings. I sat at the bar, which didn’t have a bartender on duty, and surveyed the menu. It offers up some interesting dishes, including Peruvian classics like ceviche, causa (mashed potato cakes) and lomo saltado (stir-fried beef, except they make it with chicken). There are also quite a few seafood options.

I decided to start with the ceviche ($14), even though it was listed under the entrées, my server told me it was small enough to be a starter. It arrived with all the classic Peruvian ceviche condiments, such as thinly sliced red onions, yucca, sweet potatoes and the corn-like kernels called choclo.

The fish chunks marinated in lime juice was nicely balanced, not very tart. And I liked how they were in chunky pieces. There was a slight heat from the chili, but that’s what the sweet potatoes were for to soothe my mouth. I wasn’t a big fan of the yucca, but I liked that it was there to make it seem very authentic.

For my main dish, I ordered something called Arroz con Pollo ($12) because of the description of a “whole chicken leg” served on rice. When the dish arrived, the chicken leg was buried under this mound of rice, speckled with peas and corn and some tomatoes.

Here’s a picture of the chicken inside the rice after I dug in looking for it. For some reason when I read “whole chicken leg” I was thinking like a turkey leg size, but it really is just a chicken leg, and when you think about it, a chicken drumstick isn’t very big. I felt a bit disappointed at the size of the chicken in the dish, but I did enjoy the jasmine rice, which was cooked perfectly and accented with cilantro. As for the other ingredients, they felt almost pedestrian, like they were from a bag of frozen vegetables. (It didn’t taste frozen; it just looked like they came out of a bag.)

I ended my dinner with dessert, which was helado ($6)—the amazing South American ice cream that’s similar to gelato. The flavor was lucuma, which is a popular fruit from Peru. The flavor and look is very similar to caramel, and this helado was super thick and creamy. I enjoyed it although I wished it was a bit colder.

Overall, La Furia seems to offer you a nice glimpse at authentic Peruvian dishes, but in a simple presentation like you were visiting a friend’s home in Lima. You won’t be amazed by the presentation but you’ll appreciate the informality.

Single guy rating: 2.75 stars (Simple and straight-forward)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:

1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

La Furia Chalaca on Urbanspoon

Related Peruvian reviews:
La Mar Cebicheria: “A Continuing Lesson in Peruvian Cuisine”
Pisco Latin Lounge: “Trying to Shake Up the Neighborhood”
Limon Peruvian Rotisserie: “Classy Take on Home-style Peruvian Food”


Palidor said...

I've never had yucca. Or Peruvian food for that matter! All the dishes look good.

To answer your question, yes I'm on a gluten-free diet now. :-P So, unless I'm baking for someone else, the baked goods I make will now be gluten-free.

foodhoe said...

After I ate at La Mar, I was obsessed by the anticuchos and was trying to find a Peruvian restaurant on this side of the bay... I love soizic too, I hope that all the new development in the area helps to shape up the neighborhood!

julie k said...

it doesn't look like much food. Or maybe my appetite is too healthy..

egg to the apples said...

What of beautiful photo of the helado! oh yeah, it looks pretty tasty too.