Tag Archives: lima

Lounge Review: VIP Club Lounge Lima Airport (LIM)

After taking a sip of Inca Kola and abandoning it, I made my way to the VIP Club lounge next door to the Sumaq VIP lounge to see if it was any different. While the amenities were basically the same, I’d head straight to the VIP Club lounge next time given that it had approximately one tenth the number of people in it and yet was much more spacious.

So much seating!

So much seating!

Ample space with no one occupying it

Ample space with no one occupying it

Enclosed room

Enclosed room

Such seating

Such seating

And more

And more

In general, the VIP Club lounge felt more modern than the Sumaq VIP lounge, and there were so many empty seats! A great change from the crowded room where you have to share a table with a stranger.

The food and beverage options were essentially the same as the other lounge: room temperature drinks, salty snacks, and desserts. Given that there were fewer people in this lounge, things were much better stocked, so the offerings didn’t look quite so meager.

Drinks

Drinks

Snacks

Snacks

Desserts

Desserts

Orange juice machine with oranges!

Orange juice machine with oranges!

Best of all, there was a massage chair! Not a super fancy massage chair like you find in Asian airport lounges (like the ANA business class lounge in Tokyo Narita or the Thai lounge in Hong Kong), but I still like it.

And a massage chair!

And a massage chair!

Anyway, if you have Priority Pass or another way to have a choice between the Sumaq VIP lounge and this lounge, definitely choose this one.

Lounge Review: Sumaq VIP Lounge Lima Airport (LIM)

My first lounge stop at the Lima airport for my flight back to the US was the Sumaq VIP lounge, which can be accessed via Priority Pass or via status or class of service on American (as well as many other ways, but those were what was applicable to me).

Entrance to the Sumaq VIP lounge

Entrance to the Sumaq VIP lounge

My flight departed at 2:35am, and this lounge was quite busy. It’s essentially one medium-sized room with an outdoor smoking area, but there weren’t that many available seats. Definitely not a place where you can spread out or have much personal space. I generally feel comfortable leaving my stuff unattended in a lounge when I go to the bathroom and such, but I didn’t feel that way here.

Blurry photo of seating

Blurry photo of seating

Crowded business room

Crowded business center

Outdoor smoking area

Outdoor/smoking area

The food options were pretty sad, but the snacks were reasonable. Lots of unhealthy sweet and salty things to eat. They also have showers, although I didn’t check those out, and Inca Kola, which I did try. The refrigerator wasn’t cold, though, so my drink was served at room temperature.

Meager food offerings

Meager food offerings

Orange juice machine!

Orange juice machine! Lacking oranges, though

Snacks

Snacks

More food

Desserts

Bar

Bar

As for basic requirements of a lounge, the wifi was very slow, and I didn’t see many power outlets, so I imagine it’d be hard to get any work done. Although there weren’t many business-looking types in the lounge, so I don’t know if it matters to people that much. There were manual announcements made by an agent who would walk around the lounge and announce departures.

All in all, it’s fine, but the VIP lounge next door was significantly better because it had many fewer people and essentially the same offerings, so definitely go next door if you’re getting access via Priority Pass.

Dining Review: Central Restaurant, Lima Peru

The second fancy restaurant that I ate at in Lima was Central, which has been lauded in numerous places, including San Pelligrino’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (Central was number 15 in 2014). I made a reservation for 8pm, which is the first seating. Sounds late to me to have 8pm be the first seating, but that seemed typical in Lima, and everyone who was seated at 8pm was English-speaking (and rather casually dressed, although the restaurant is definitely upscale).

Also, apologies in advance for the bad pictures.

I had pre-ordered the tasting menu, so no regular menu was offered. The tasting menu is conceptually based off of different elevations of Peru and the ingredients found therein. The chef Virgilio Martinez Veliz definitely tries to introduce novel ingredients that are indigenous to Peru, which means I had never eaten a lot of the foods that I sampled.

Looking down on the main floor

Looking down on the main floor

Menu for the night

Menu for the night

The first four bites were bites from the sea, coast, mountains, and jungle. First bite was squid on top of a seaweed cracker, which had a fresh sea flavor without too much brine. The native corn was a completely unfamiliar flavor to me–it tasted vaguely like chicha morada. The creaminess of the corn contrasted well with the crisp crackers.

Squid on top of seaweed cracker; sweet potato with camomile

Squid on top of seaweed cracker; native corn

Yacon root covered with a bit of pepper was next. It was a bit like eating jicama with a little bit more of a peppery kick. The final bite was sweet potato with chamomile, which tasted like a fall harvest.

Yacon root

Yacon root; sweet potato with chamomile

The bread presentation was impressive. There was a cocoa leaf bread, cacuts fruit bread, and tuber bread served with toasted butter. The butter could have used a tad more salt, but it tasted almost like caramel without the sweetness.

Bread presentation

Bread presentation

Up next was scallops served in something crunchy like quinoa and a ceviche-like sauce with passion fruit and avocado. This was a solid course, with a good contrast of the crunch of the grain against the scallops, combined with the more familiar flavors of ceviche from the sauce.

Scallops in something like quinoa with a ceviche sauce

Scallops

The next course with octopus served in a soup with purple corn, olive, and limo chili. I enjoyed the octopus as it was grilled well and had some chew, and the soup was delicate with just a hint of heat at the end from the limo chili, but I didn’t really understand the other aspects of the dish.

Octopus with soup

Octopus with soup

The next course puzzled me. It was essentially like eating raw shrimp, which can be a wonderful experience (like at a good sushi bar), and it was creamy, but it was also stringy and slightly unpleasant. The frozen herbs were interesting on their own, but I wasn’t sure how this plate tied together besides the elevations theme.

Raw shrimp

River shrimp, native herbs

This course was similarly odd. It was like eating mashed potatoes with balls in it. Granted, the potatoes were tasty, but it didn’t seem like much beyond it. I also thought the other thing on the plate was a hunk of meat, but it was just a decorative root.

Mashed potatoes with balls

Frozen potato

The following course was my least favorite of the night. It was arapaima, which is a large freshwater fish native to the Amazon, but I did not enjoy it. This was just salty and chew and confusing, so much so that I didn’t finish the plate. The sauces didn’t add to the dish, and I didn’t enjoy the presentation.

Salty chewy

Arapaima; also, when did splatters become fancy food presentations?

Up next was lamb and things it eats/produces. The lamb itself was tasty and cooked well, but it was covered in an overpowering sauce. Some of the other elements on the plate helped to counter the richness of the sauce. This plate was too salty and sticky and crunchy.

Lamb with things it eats

Lamb

The first dessert was interesting, full of things I had never eaten and probably can’t pronounce. There was citrus and nuts and fruit, and each element was individually interesting, although I wasn’t sure how well they all went together.

Dessert #1

Dessert #1

The second dessert was chirimoya with cacao, which was simple, tasty, and cute.

Cherimoya with cocoa

Chirimoya with cacao

Finally, there was a selection of bonbons and a house-brewed drink. The bonbons were generally good; the drink had a somewhat unpleasant smell but a mostly pleasant taste. Mostly.

Bonbons

Bonbons

At the end of the meal, I received a lot of stuff. I’m not sure the point of it all, but it included cards representing each of the courses I had eaten and each elevation.

Lots of stuff

Lots of souvenirs

The chef also made rounds throughout the night to talk to each of the guests. He was very gracious.

The chef

The chef

Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Maido more than this one at Central. While both used novel ingredients (to me) and had interesting concepts, I felt like the food at Maido was generally more delicious while I was mostly left feeling puzzled at Central. The price point was also similar at 325 soles for the menu plus 7.50 for a small bottle of gassy water (the current Elevations menu appears to be 388 soles per person).

Dining Review: Maido, Lima Peru

Lima is known as being one of the best food cities in South America, so of course I based most of my plans around eating. Unfortunately, I was in Lima for a Sunday and Monday, so Astrid y Gaston wasn’t open while I was there, but I did check out Maido and Central. This is a review of Maido, a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant.

Like Astrid y Gaston, Maido isn’t open for dinner on Sundays, but it is fortunately open for lunch, so I booked a late lunch and the Nikkei experience. I made my reservation less than a week in advance, but I was there in January and aiming for a late lunch.

Outside of Maido

Outside of Maido

The restaurant was busy when I arrived, full of relatively loud groups of people enjoying a leisurely lunch. I ended up sitting at the bar as I was by myself, which did give me a chance to see some of the food being prepared. A server came up to me to reconfirm that I wanted to do the Nikkei experience, which I think is pretty uncommon for people to do at lunch. Because I was eating on a Sunday at lunch, I think they also made a number of substitutions for ingredients.

The menu

The menu

The first course was grilled octopus and a piece of black olive tofu. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor of olives, but there was a great contrast of textures between the chewiness of the octopus and the creaminess of the tofu and the crunch of the quinoa on top of the tofu.

Grilled octopus and black olive tofu

Grilled octopus and black olive tofu

Next up was a mushroom cracker and a whelk served in the shell covered in apple sorbet. The mushroom cracker was absolutely delicious. The whelk was a bit unwieldy to eat as the whelk was quite large and the sorbet was cold (duh), but it was a good combination of sweetness from the sorbet and sea from the whelk once you got past the contrasting temperatures.

Mushroom cracker and a whelk with apple sorbet

Mushroom cracker and a whelk with apple sorbet

Ceviche is a staple in Lima, and the next course was a faithful interpretation of ceviche. Deliciously acidic, bright, salty with fresh fish. Very solid.

Ceviche

Ceviche

The next course had a bit of show with it, as it came in a smoke filled bell that was released when set down (you can still see the smoke in my picture). While the individual elements of this dish were too much on their own–like the gobo was too sweet and the sauce was too creamy–they blended together well.

Scallops

Scallops

A fish sandwich was next, which was comforting and delicious. Fried monkfish, tartar sauce, a couple of vegetables for crunch and freshness, and a tasty bun.

Fried fish sandwich

Fried fish sandwich

Cuy (aka guinea pig) was also on my list of things to eat in Peru, so I was glad to be served a cuy confit. Honestly, it tasted like most other meat. The noodles were substituted with a sweet potato, but I still enjoyed them and they had a good kick. Again, the individual components were a bit much on their own, but they balanced each other out when eaten together.

Cuy (guinea pig) confit

Cuy (guinea pig) confit

This was an unconventional take on ceviche. Essentially, they took the ceviche sauce and froze it using liquid nitrogen. For me, this dish was more interesting in concept than in execution. The sauce was very strong, and I don’t think the flavors of the fish or corn were really able to come through.

A frozen take on ceviche

A frozen take on ceviche

The first set of nigiri that I got was nigiri from the sea. The smoked mackerel was great without being too smoky (my usual complaint about smoked foods). There was a good balance with the sauce and the onions. The other piece was fried conger eel, which was surprisingly sweet and didn’t really seem like eel to me.

Smoked mackerel and fried conger eel nigiri

Nigiri from the sea: smoked mackerel and fried conger eel

Next up was a rice tamale with pancetta on top, served with some cocona pepper. The tamale was creamy, the pig was tender, and the pickled peppers were crunchy. The accompanying sauce also reminded me of Mexican food.

Rice tamale with pancetta

Rice tamale with pancetta

A take on chawanmushi was next. Savory delicate custard with crab instead of river prawn since the latter is now apparently protected by law. While I’m sure that others would love this course, it was a bit forgettable for me.

A take on chawanmushi

A take on chawanmushi

Then the set of nigiri from the earth. The rice was deliciously seasoned, and I loved the delicate quail egg, although the beef was a bit charred and overcooked. The pancetta nigiri was a bit touch and chewy, so it was forgettable. The peking duck nigiri was definitely interesting, given the crispy duck skin with sweetness from the hoisin and just a hint of leek.

Unconventional nigiri: quail egg + beef, pancetta, peking duck

Nigiri from the earth: quail egg + beef, pancetta, peking duck

Next was black cod served with potato cream, baby corn, and a potato chip. The black cod was served in typical Japanese fashion, but the potato cream provided a brightness and creaminess that was a great contrast. Again, the individual components were a bit heavy-handed, but the combination was great.

Black cod with potato cream, baby corn, and potato chip

Black cod with potato cream, baby corn, and potato chip

The next course was simple in concept but well-executed and crazy tasty. Braised short rib on top of fried rice. The short rib was tender and savory and fatty without tasting like a heart attack. The fried rice was competent, and the pickled ginger provided a nice complement to cut through some of the savoriness.

Tender braised short rib with fried rice

Tender braised short rib with fried rice

Finally, the first of two desserts. This was ice cream served with various toppings. I know I’ve railed in the past against sundaes, but the toppings here were incredible. The mango was intensely flavorful and better than any mango I’ve ever had in the US. The mochi was just about the best mochi I’ve ever had. The nuts were a good complement, and the milk on top added that je ne sais quoi. Great dessert.

Ice cream with toppings

Ice cream with toppings

The last bite looked like sushi, but they used chocolate instead of seaweed (although there was also seaweed there) and tapioca instead of roe. There was also mango, cream, and nuts. I enjoy it when chefs play with our expectations, and the inclusion of actual seaweed made it all the more interesting.

Temaki sushi made with chocolate and tapioca instead of seaweed and roe

Temaki sushi made with chocolate and tapioca instead of seaweed and roe

Altogether, the meal took around 2 hours, and the service was really rushing the courses to get through them all (not necessarily in a bad way). My server was quite good (he appeared to be the maitre d’ or equivalent), and he was able to explain all of the courses in detail, but the overall level of service at the restaurant did not appear very high given the quality of the food (perhaps because I was there for a lunch service instead of a dinner service). As a trivial aside, this was the second fancy restaurant I had been to that month where one of the waitstaff seriously needed a breath mint…

Maido is a great introduction to Japanese-Peruvian fusion, and this was a fusion restaurant where I felt that the food was actually delicious and not just gimmicky. The total cost was 320 soles for the Nikkei tasting menu, 8 soles for a glass of gassy water, and 10% for tip (about $130 USD, although I see on the website that this same menu is now 370 soles roughly 6 months later). I thought this was a good price for the quality and novelty of the food, as this would easily be a $200 meal in a place like San Francisco. Personally, I enjoyed this restaurant more than Central (dining review coming shortly).

Hotel Review: Radisson Miraflores Decapolis, Lima Peru

Disclosure: I’m really behind on trip reports, so this hotel stay actually happened in January 2014. Although I try to take good notes, some aspects of trip report might be a bit fuzzy.

I booked a weekend trip to Lima, Peru on a whim, largely because I saw a good fare on The Flight Deal (an awesome site that all travelers should subscribe to). Since I was just staying for a long weekend, I only needed 2 nights at a hotel, and I ended up booking at the Radisson Miraflores Decapolis for 38k Club Carlson points (last night free). From talking with my friends who had spent time in Lima, Miraflores was described as a hip area to be with lots of good food and shopping (not that I care about the latter), and I can confirm that it was a good location for me to walk around and explore.

My flight from the US arrived around 1am, so I jumped in a cab to the hotel. Since I was tired and don’t speak Spanish, I just got a fixed price taxi from the airport, which was 45 soles (~$15 USD), although they first tried to charge me more by pointing to a sign that was confusing.

At check-in, they gave me a room on the 11th floor, which is the highest floor of the hotel that still has rooms. But they didn’t tell me that only one set of elevators would get me to my room, and so I ended up wandering up the wrong set of elevators and getting lost when all I wanted to do was sleep. I had also inquired about late check-out since my return flight was departing at 2:30am, but the front desk refused to offer anything except on day of departure. In general, the front desk staff was extremely unhelpful throughout my stay.

It's a bed!

It’s a bed!

Other room furnishings

Other room furnishings

Bathroom

Bathroom

Welcome amenity (not very tasty)

Welcome amenity (not very tasty)

Breakfast in the morning was decent. The service was great and attentive, but the food itself was mediocre. There’s also a made-to-order menu, and it was fine for me to order multiple things off of that menu.

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

More breakfast

More breakfast

And more breakfast

And more breakfast

And more

And more

Restaurant seating area

Restaurant seating area

The roof of the hotel has a cool bar/lounge/pool area. There wasn’t that much usage during the day, but it was more busy at night. I’m not sure that I’d seek this place out if I weren’t staying at the hotel, but it could be a place for a chill night if you’re already there.

Hotel pool

Hotel pool

Lounge seating on the roof near the pool

Lounge seating on the roof near the pool

Fitness room

Fitness room

Numerous reviews online had also mentioned that you get a free $10 bar credit for staying at the hotel. I’m not really a drinker, but given that I was in Lima, I thought I might as well take advantage of it and get a Pisco Sour one night. Before I ordered, I confirmed with both the front desk and the bartender that I would get a $10 credit as a hotel guest. But at check out, I saw that I had a charge for the drink (which I drank approximately 10% of), which led to a somewhat awkward exchange. The person checking me out said that award stays weren’t eligible for the $10 bar credit, while I said that numerous people had confirmed that I was eligible, and then we just kinda stood there for 30 seconds with him looking exasperated at me. Granted, it was only $10, but I wouldn’t have ordered the drink otherwise… Anyway, after me looking pathetically at him, he waived the charge.

It was also an ordeal to get late check out. As I said before, every time I asked, the front desk said that I could only request it on the day of departure. So a little after midnight on my day of departure, I asked the front desk for late check out, and they said I needed to ask in the morning. So I asked when in the morning, and they said they weren’t sure, but the earlier the better as it’s first-come-first-served. I asked why they couldn’t take my request now, and they just kinda shrugged at me and were unhelpful, so I asked them to write down my request for the next shift. Granted, I don’t stay in hotels that frequently, but the whole situation seemed a bit ridiculous.

Finally, the internet in the hotel was painfully slow. I actually ended up using the 2G connection on my phone for all of my internet needs rather than the hotel wifi.

Overall, the hotel has a pretty good location in Miraflores and Club Carlson offers some awesome values with the last night free on award stays, but I probably wouldn’t stay at this hotel again. The service was generally pretty unhelpful, the wifi is not useful, and the hotel isn’t anything special. But perhaps my requests were unreasonable and my experience anomalous, as lots of the reviews of the hotel are pretty positive, so it’s probably a case of YMMV.