Hard-working Mariano and Luisa Mayorga share kitchen duty at their second El Tumi de Oro, in Normandy Isle. The spacious place has pale pistachio walls and a bar stocked with Peruvian wines and beer. At lunch there is an all-you-can eat buffet for $9.99 ($15.99 on the weekend when more dishes are added) set on colorful woven Inca mantas (textiles). The extensive menu offers rotisserie chicken, seafood, grilled meats and Peruvian-Chinese chifa dishes. The eatery is named for the ceremonial gold knives inlaid with gems found in the tombs of pre-Inca royalty.
Mariano is from the coastal town of Chiclayo in the north of Peru and his wife is from Ica, the most important wine region of the country in the south. The two met while working at another Peruvian restaurant and decided to go into business for themselves, opening the first Tumi four years ago.
Peruvian food is one of the earliest fusion cuisines, with Inca and Spanish heritages and African and Asian influences creating the most varied menu in South America. The potato is native to the Andes of Peru and here the humble spud is boiled, sliced and smothered in creamed cheese sauce tinted yellow with aji amarillo chile paste. Causa is mashed potato cake stuffed with mayo-bound chicken salad. Ceviche is made with shrimp, octopus, scallops, surf clams or mild, flaky swai (Mekong catfish) marinated in citrus juices.
House specialties include spicy periwinkles (marine snails), chaufa mixto (fried rice with egg bits, meats and seafood) and stir-fried roasted pork with veggies. Coconut flan is sweet and tropical in this place packed on the weekend with partying Peruvians.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who blogs at FoodIndiaCook.com.