CLOSED: Kay Pacha (Toronto)

Even though I’ve had Peruvian cuisine previously, I’m still surprised by the seemingly varied choices available on a menu. Due to their proximity to other countries, their cuisine has European, Asian, and West African influences, aside from the traditional Inca-based dishes. Moreover, since Peru’s geography has many climates (mountains, rainforest, and access to water), dishes also range from light seafood to heartier grains and meat. This makes Peruvian restaurants an ideal gathering place for groups with varying tastes - there’s so much on the menu that you’re bound to find something that will satisfy picky eaters.

Kay Pacha’s menu is no different, our meal encompassed dishes often found in Argentinian, Mediterranean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants… with a Peruvian twist of course. Their empanaditas ($12 for 3) are like empanadas but the pastry is not as flakey and a bit harder. The filling of ground sirloin, boiled egg, and olives was delicious. Plus, I’m glad the kitchen left the olives in big chunks, so they could be picked out if necessary. Accompanied by two condiments (rocoto cream and chimichurri), I found the rocoto cream goes well with the empanditas; the sauce has a faint chili taste and is mellower, adding a hint of richness and a wonderful aroma to the pastry.

When you see the ceviche classic ($24), you’ll notice it’s distinctly different from the Spanish and Mexican versions of the dish. Firstly, the ingredients (red snapper, red onion, toasted chulpe corn, boiled choclo, sweet potato puree, yam puree, and leche de tigre) arrive separated allowing someone to remove something they really don’t like. 

After mixing everything together, the sweet potato and yam purees cause the ceviche to turn a bright colour, the dish looks like halo halo but tastes like ceviche… it takes some getting used to. Overall, the ceviche is decent but needs more salt and there’s almost too many crunchy elements for my taste.

The antichucho grilled skewers of black tiger shrimp ($15) were done perfectly, the shrimp tasty on their own or with the hot sauce. It’d be even better if the ribbing on the sides of the sugar peas were removed as the vegetables were a little tough and sinewy.

While the final dishes took a while to prepare, they were worth the wait. The Miami ribs Nikkei ($28) is very flavourful, the short ribs marinated with Chicha and soy sauce, so the meat becomes sweet and salty. Some may find the ribs fatty and chewier, but this is expected with beef ribs and is also heartier than the pork version. Lining the bottom of the plate are “majaco” style plantains, which are deep fried and then stewed so while they’re not crunchy, they contain moisture.

An order of the chaufa de mariscos ($30) goes great with the ribs. The fried rice smells amazing and is filled with large pieces of tiger shrimp, squid, scallop, and mussels. Soy and “chifa sauce” are added to give the rice a sweet saltiness. Just a bowl of the rice would make a satisfying meal. It’s a dish that embodies things I love: fried rice, seafood, wok hay, and bursts of flavours. Ah… Peruvian cuisine, why are you not more readily available?

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 744 St. Clair Avenue West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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