Zengo Plays With Pisco

If you’ve ever wondered what culinary delights blending Japanese and Peruvian ingredients might yield, then you have a few more days to check out Zengo’s Lima-Tokyo tasting menu.

Recently, Metrocurean was invited to attend a press dinner at the Chinatown location featuring this blend of cuisines. Bar manager Daniel Burger introduced five delicious cocktails, including several concoctions made with Pisco — a Peruvian grape brandy. Chef de cuisine Graham Bartlett presented eight small plates, ranging from a rainbow ceviche to homemade green tea ice cream topped with a heavenly cajeta (caramel) sauce.

Also in attendance was Melanie da Trinidade-Asher, the founder and master distiller of Macchu Pisco.

She discussed (while we sampled!) her company’s three distinct offerings, including its flagship pisco — a smoky, earthy pisco made with Quebranta grapes, aged for nine months, and La Diablada (the Devil’s Dance) — a fruity and floral blend of Muscatel, Italia and Quebranta grapes, aged for one and half years.

We also sampled a new entry into the pisco market, the company's Ñusta Pisco, a smooth after-dinner pisco with banana peel tones. Only 100 bottles of the Ñusta are made each year, with projected availability in the U.S. market this Christmas season.

My personal favorites of the evening included the spicy passion fruit pisco sour, made with Macchu Pisco, fresh passion fruit puree, egg whites, aji amarillo (a Peruvian chile pepper), and citrus. The “concha a lo macho”, a spicy combination of scallops, calamari, shrimp and bonito flakes with an aji amarillo aioli, was also out of this world. To see the entire tasting menu, click here.

The special menu will be offered through October, but the rainbow ceviche, sparkling sake pisco cocktail, blood orange whiskey sour, and that tasty passion fruit pisco sour will still be available after month's end.

Pisco photo by Rebecca Kritzer.

Ashlie Hughes is pursuing her longtime dream of writing about food and travel. During her free time she enjoys trying new restaurants, searching for the perfect cocktail, and daydreaming about traveling the world. She currently writes a column titled The Aperitif and other articles for Patch.com.