Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ay Ay Picante

Location: 4569 N Elston
Cost: About $25 per person

It was a Sunday night and another edition of Pearl Family Dinner at 5PM was about to take place. As usual, my dad was trying to use some of his many Lettuce Entertain You gift cards but was also willing to go anywhere that meant a more convenient drive than going all the way east to Mon Ami Gabi. I mentioned this Peruvian place not too far off the highway. There was some hemming and hawing, but when I pointed out it was BYOB that tilted the scales. That's how we ended up at Ay Ay Picante.

Ay Ay Picante is this little neighborhood place with a very homey vibe. The seating is limited to a few large tables, but there was enough room to pack in an eclectic mix of local families, young couples, and a few buddies out for dinner. You can make reservations, but I think you'll get away without one most of the time. There's plenty of street parking nearby too.

The service was perfect. By that I mean that they were quick and spoke just too little English to laugh at my dad's corny jokes. Like I mentioned before, it's BYOB. The cost of the food is low and the portions are huge. This is the place where you can get a large steak for $20 or a whole fish for $15.

The Food
We got the ball rolling with some Empanadas and some Shrimp Stuffed Avocados. The empanada was crispy, not too heavy, and filled with piping hot and spicy pulled meat. The avocado dish was on the blander side but came with plenty of large, garlic heavy shrimp on the side to make up for it.

 The Shrimp Stuffed Avocados

 The Empanadas

For our entrees we got the Shrimp Fried Rice, the Salmon Special, and the Steak Special. The fried rice was excellent with tons of shrimp and a tangy spice mix. The salmon was coated in this thick brown sauce that overshadowed the fish a bit too much, but otherwise the dish was spot on. The steak was gigantic, cooked the appropriate medium rare, and dressed with just a little salt and pepper. It wasn't too fatty either.

 The Salmon Special

 The Steak Special

 The Shrimp Fried Rice

The waiter was rather insistent that we try the Flan and one of the Alfajor (peruvian cookie). The flan had enough chocolate to make anyone in my family happy. The Alfajor had an interesting, somewhat sticky texture with plenty of sweetness.

The Flan

 The Alfajor

Ay Ay Picante gets my nod over The Taste Peru, which I was also a big fan of. It has this great neighborhood feel, huge portions, cheap prices, and strong ethnic flavors. It's exactly what I hoped it would be. There were small flaws in a few dishes, but otherwise I waddled out of there a happy man. I'm giving them 4.5 out of 5 Pearls.

Ay Ay Picante Peruvian Seafood & Steak on Urbanspoon


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