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Appreciate the Ceviche and Ceviche House Will Feel Like Home

This little restaurant tucked away in an Alief strip center knows how to mix it up with citrus, fish and fútbol.

At lunch, a few select dishes are offered for $6.95 each, allowing diners to explore the food of the Andes without overindulging in the middle of the day. When I went for lunch, though, I wanted to try as much as possible, so I asked about the trio plates I'd seen on the restaurant's Facebook page. Initially the server told me they were a special and not available, but then she returned from the kitchen with good news.

"My mom will make you a trio plate," she said. "What do you want?"

That kind of flexibility isn't something you find at every restaurant in town, so I decided to take advantage of it. I told the server to have the chef surprise me, and that's precisely what she did.

Fresh lime juice is squeezed directly onto raw fish, allowing the acid to denature the proteins, essentially curing the seafood.
Troy Fields
Fresh lime juice is squeezed directly onto raw fish, allowing the acid to denature the proteins, essentially curing the seafood.
From clams to squid to curly octopus tentacles, it's all available — and delicious — at Ceviche House.
Troy Fields
From clams to squid to curly octopus tentacles, it's all available — and delicious — at Ceviche House.

Details

Ceviche House

14165 Bissonnet, 281-575-1714. Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cilantro soup $7.25

Arroz con pollo $10.95

Lomo saltado $9.95

Ceviche de mariscos $15.95

Chaufa de mariscos $10.45

Jalea $13.45

Aji de gallina $8.95

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I was presented with a trío de mariscos, a colorful platter of three different seafood dishes, each topped with the same criolla sauce of red onions and lime juice that adorns nearly every Peruvian seafood meal. On one end of the transparent plastic tray was jalea, similar to ceviche only with lightly fried (instead of nearly raw) fish, squid and crab meat. In the middle was tomato and red-pepper-spiced arroz con mariscos, also featuring fried fish and a few beautiful clams. On the other end, a bright green bowl of cilantro soup with more seafood, including peachy-pink shrimp and a large crab claw.

The soup was the highlight of the trio. It looked to be filled with a medley of frozen veggies, the typical green bean, pea, lima bean, corn and carrot mix you can find in any freezer section, but the mixture of peppery cilantro and briny seafood masked any subpar flavors that might linger in bulk bags of vegetables. Fish stock, fresh cilantro blended to a paste and a hefty helping of garlic combine to make a soup that's almost summery in its lightness.

A heartier dish is the lomo saltado, a Peruvian classic featuring stir-fried beef with slivers of onions and thick slices of yuca. With its strong soy sauce marinade, it shows the influence of the Chinese immigrants who settled in Peru in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The beef is tender, and the starchy yuca fries soak up the residual juices, taking on the flavor of the lomo saltado themselves. This, more than any other dish, is indicative of the melting pot of Peruvian cuisine and the variety of cultures that converged to make the native food so unique.
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By the time we'd finished the ceviche appetizer, my friend and I had become buddies with the group gathered to watch the World Cup. They all seemed to be acquaintances of the cook, people who stopped by for the air-conditioning and cable and some yuca fries dipped in huancaina sauce. Like us, they'd brought booze, but throughout the game, they made several trips to the gas station around the corner to retrieve more Negra Modelo and a few more packs of cigarettes. At one point, when I joked I was rooting for Bosnia and Herzegovina instead of Argentina, they rose to their feet and, with broad grins, gestured to the door, implying I could change my allegiances or leave. Noting my penitent look, the oldest man began laughing and offered me a beer. As long as you were rooting for the home team, you were all right.

The sense of community is what I liked best about Ceviche House, aside, of course, from the ceviche. My friends and I were the only other diners there every time I went, but we were embraced like old friends. In fact, my photo is now on the wall at the restaurant, tucked into a frame along with the faces of other customers. The frame bears an inscription that reads "LIVE LAUGH LOVE," and it seems like something you'd be more likely to find in a home than in a modest strip-center restaurant.

But it seems appropriate here, where the neighborhood gathers to watch sports over bowls of the best leche de tigre in town and where the teenage servers are sometimes too preoccupied with their cell phones to deliver an extra napkin. It doesn't matter if you can't speak Spanish or don't know the difference between aji amarillo and aji rocoto.

All you have to do is appreciate the ceviche and shout when the home team scores. Do that, and Ceviche House will feel like home to you, too.

kaitlin.steinberg@houstonpress.com

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3 comments
cresler
cresler

Ceviche and Arroz con Pollo are also a popular meals in Panama. Panama where the Panama Canal is located.

paval
paval topcommenter

Great article on Cebiche or Ceviche House. So many places in Peru are like the one you describe, a real family operation of hard or hardly (during world cup it is understandable to anyone but American Football, Baseball and Basketball fans) working people.


If your travels take you to the West End again and you look for Peruvian Food try Sur in Katy. They have what I would call the best Chicharron Sandwich in Houston or even outside of Peru I have ever tried. Peruvian Chicharron is not the deep fried fat sold as chicharron in taquerias, but much more the soft meat that hides under the skin and stays moist due to the fat covering and juicing it throughout. 


 
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