Costanera 700 is one of the oldest Nikkei (Japanese
Peruvian) restaurants in Lima. It was founded by nissei Humberto
Sato (who passed away in October at 78) and is now run by his son
Yaquir Sato. This place is a Lima institution, beloved for over 30
years by politicians, business people, and the artistic elite. The
decor reflects both its age and its eclectic history, it’s kitchy and
a bit dated but charming none the less. The clientele? In Yaquir’s
words (translated) “Now many entrepreneurs come to close deals,
especially at lunch time, the average customer is over 40 years old
and most of them are male, while 30% come from another country.”
It’s located in a nice part of Miraflores. Somewhat confusingly the
website and business card list two addresses which turn out to be the
front and back doors. We sat upstairs where there are wide glass
windows and a panoramic view of the ocean.
We saw people all around us having some kind of bright green drink in
large glasses. We asked, it was a lemongrass lemonade! Had to have
it. Was delicious. Will have to find it again.
We started with an uni tiradito. There was a special “Erizo en
Salsa Temsuyo” sea urchin in tempura sauce, but instead we ordered
erizo tiradito with shoyu and olive oil “Costanera.” At s/. 50 (about
US $15) this felt sinfully indulgent. It was more uni at one sitting
than I’ve ever had before. In Japan, for that price, you’d only get
one sea urchin worth of uni - and it would often have come from Peru!
The shrimp balls were recommended, so we had one each. They’re pretty
large, deep fried, and full of shrimp. They were served with an
unusual sweet sauce that I thought was a hollandaise with sugar added
to it. Nope. The sauce is mayonnaise with sweetened condensed milk and
a bit of orange flavor. I can see why it’s a crowd pleaser, but I’m
put in mind of the notorious “crab rangoon.”
Costanera 700 is also known for it’s twice fried tempura. We had
vegetable and shrimp. The batter was firmer and crunchier than
traditional Japanese tempura, and slightly more browned. It was
delicious and came with tempura sauce pre-seasoned with ginger. The
ingredients were mostly traditional, big prawn, little prawn, onion,
and carrot, with one special Peruvian touch - plantain. Plantain
tempura is genius, I think every tempura should include it.
Finally we had the chita a la sal, a house specialty. The menu
calls chita “gilt head bream” (s__parus aurata) but most sources
say chita is “peruvian grunt” (anisotremus scapularis.) Either way
it’s a medium-large robust silvery fish with firm tasty white
flesh. Costanera 700 prepares it baked in a salt crust, and serves it
in a dramatic flaming tableside presentation. The waiters are
obviously practiced because their deftness in parsing and serving it
is beautiful to watch. It’s served very simply with just melted
butter, chopped garlic, and chopped ginger on the side for you to add
to your taste.
We managed to order well, mostly by luck we seemed to hit the most
popular dishes. I’d estimate about half of the tables ordered chita a
la sal. Our luck was the more remarkable because the menu is huge! It
runs to over 12 pages and includes a table of contents.
The food is great, the service is very friendly and helpful, the view
is nice, and the sense of history is incomparable.