After my visit to Panca Peruvian Rotisserie, I made sure to hit up Nazca Grill for a comparison. After uploading my photos, I realized that I've got a bit of a backlog with regards to Nazca Grill, so a post has been a while in coming. I usually include Nazca in round-ups, like the Lomo Saltado comparison.
Over the years the dining furnishings have been upgraded, though the interior is still that dark red tone....
The same gentleman, I believe his name is Wilson, still runs the place. They've been around for over three years now, which is a great sign, though on most of my visits, the restaurant is nearly empty. The prices have gone up, as have most restaurants. My biggest problems with the food as Nazca Grill has been the random inconsistencies encountered.
So I started with something I've enjoyed in the past. The Causa Nazca. A causa is basically a mashed potato "cake/dumpling". Peru is home of the potato, if you ever have the chance to visit, you'll find it in so many shapes and forms, from the delicious and basic papa amarilla the yellow potato, to the chuño a freeze dried tuber that has an interesting texture. The version at Nazca Grill seems similar to the layered Causa Limeña, Lima style Causa. I usually will get the shrimp version.
The causa here used to look like it was cut from a baking pan, but is now presented in a much more attractive circle. It's not over-dressed with mayonnaise, though the aji rocoto sauce is on the bitter side. The shrimp also seemed mushy and watery. This was not quite as good as what I had on previous visits.
On another visit I ordered the Cebiche de Pescado ($12.95).
First off the camote, the sweet potato was really mushy, second the fish had been sitting too long in the "lece de tigre" ("tiger's milk"), the marinating liquid and was getting pretty tough. Third, man, they're using aji rocoto for this, pretty spicy stuff. the length of time marinating made this dish pretty darn spicy overall. I few minutes less "bath time" and this would have been pretty good. Needless to say, there was no drinking of the leche de tigre on this visit.
I did think that the anticuchos I had on a recent visit was every bit as good as the versions I've had at Latin Chef.
Nicely flavored, the beef heart retained a bit of "squeak", but was still tender enough to enjoy. Nice color, probably due to the use achiote and perhaps a few chilies. I wish they'd be a bit more creative with the varieties of potatoes.
I also had a glass of kool-aid, um, Chicha Morada, which I actually enjoyed. For some reason I enjoy the bubble-gum like flavor of Inka Cola, but have never enjoyed Chicha Morada, but maybe things are changing?
Of course the point of this post was the Pollo ala Brasa, the rotisserie chicken. KM at work was wondering how the chicken tasted, so one day I picked some up for us.
Back in 2010 when I did my big chicken comparison, I thought Nazca Grill was "getting better all the time". Flash-forward to fall of 2012 and all I can say is, "the chicken has regressed". This was salty and I'm not sure if they finish it with hardwood anymore. On the other hand, it was nice and moist, but just not anything special, especially for twelve bucks for a half chicken meal.
The Papa Rellena I had a couple of weeks later was pretty good.
The outside was nice and crisp, the potato below well flavored, as was the filling. The salza criolla added a pungent-tangy-acid component to the dish and helped to cut any saltiness or richness I'd have encountered.
I had tried the tiradito, the Nikkei influenced raw fish dish at Nazca Grill and not really enjoyed it. After all these years, I thought I'd check it out again. Meet the latest version of Nazca's tiradito ($11.95):
This was totally different from the tiradito I had previously had here, in presentation and taste. Loved the yuca frito....but when don't I love it? Half the plate was flavored with a aji amarilla based marinade, the other half aji rocoto. I preferred the aji amarilla, it was more creamy, and had seemed to work with the lime flavors a lot better.
The aji rocoto sauce seemed very harsh and bitter. I'm wondering if they use Dona Isabel paste for this, as I've found the aji rocoto paste to be rather bitter and harsh when I tried it out recently.
No complaints about the nice, thinly sliced fish. I ended up pouring what canchita (roasted corn kernels) into the aji amarilla side and eating up as much as I could.
Overall, a mixed bag. Not sure if I'll return anytime soon.....but then again, when it gets warmer and those cebiche pescado cravings return........
4310 Genesee Ave
San Diego, CA 92117