Lomo Enjoy the diverse tastes and flavors of Peruvian cuisine with the everyday suggestions of chef Carlos
4 Sheynovo Str., Sofia
17:00 - 23:00
(Mon - Fri)
17:00 - 22:00 (Sat)
- Kind: Restaurant
Carlos Porten was born in Lima, Peru and is a fourth generation gourmet.
He came to Bulgaria at the end of 2006 with a clear objective – to open a restaurant after having lived almost 18 years in Germany. “I wanted to have a restaurant and cook in it. I planned carefully for over 5 years, drawing diagrams, pondering the menu and the overall concept. A Bulgarian friend of mine who knew about my idea asked me one day if I imagine this restaurant to be in Sofia. I had never set my foot in Bulgaria before. I came, I liked it and it didn’t really matter where this restaurant was going to be. Sofia was the right place of my idea.” The concept he had been building for years, could have been realised almost everywhere, but here he got the opportunity to develop it.
Carlos remembers the first time he prepared himself something to eat. He was 11 years old. He came home from school and he didn’t like the food he found at home. Since he was 22 years old he’s been living by himself and he’s found he was attracted to the kitchen, remembering his grandma’s culinary instructions. The ingredients he uses most often are garlic, ginger, corriander, soya sauce, lemon and various hot spices.
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What he likes the most about Bulgaria is the weather. “There are a lot more sunny days compared to Germany,” Carlos smiles. “I like the nature a lot. I also appreciate the fact that if you know where to look, you can still find many quality vegetables and all kinds of products at very good prices.”
His favourite Bulgarian dish is Panagyurishte style eggs.
What he misses the most from his homeland is the coast. “Lima, the capital of Peru, where I come from is located on the Pacific coast, and this is what I miss the most from Peru. I miss the food too, not exactly the food itself, because it’s directly related to the atmosphere, the people and the sense of celebration when you cook together, eat together and talk. This is something that I can’t reproduce entirely in LOMO, I can try, but it’s not the same as walking the streets of Lima and running into a stranger who is waiting to buy food at a street shop, and to talk to them, ask them what they are buying, whether it’s tasty and what they would recommend you. In Peru, and in warm countries in general, people are more sociable and open to talking, because they spend most of their time outdoors, on the street. I miss this a lot.”
His favorite childhood dish is homemade veal steak with tomatoes and rice (bistec con arroz), which his grandmother used to cook. “My grandmother died many years ago, but to this day, for me, she is the best cook in the world, as all grandmothers are to their grandchildren. The main recipes that I use in LOMO, are from my grandmother. In Peru we eat quite a lot of rice. We combine everything with rice. If there is no rice on the table, immediately someone will exclaim with indignation: “Hey, where’s the rice?!” The reason for this is that Peru has a very strong Asian influence. The first Asian settlers – Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, came 150 years ago. “By the way I also have Chinese blood,” Carlos said. “My great-grandfather was Chinese.”
The restaurant used to be called “Butcher’s” and was opened in February 2007 but since October 2012 it was renamed to LOMO. “Butcher’s” used to offer international cuisine with a short menu with different offerings every day, trying to use local and seasonal products. The idea is continued in LOMO. The difference is that the mission of the new restaurant is to spread the taste, characteristic of Peruvian cuisine.
The name of the restaurant comes from the Spanish word for tenderloin “lomo”. “In Peru, the second most important meal after ceviche is Lomo saltado is (lomo saltado), which is a Peruvian-Japanese fusion. The word ” fusion” is very trendy these days, but we’ve been using this method of mixing various cuisines for many, many years. It’s the foundation of the Peruvian cuisine. As I already mentioned, Peruvian cuisine is a blend of many different cultures and cuisines, with a strong influence not only from Asian, but also from European and African cuisine. Lomo saltado is a very easy dish to prepare. Cut beef tenderloin into cubes, fry in a wok on high heat with very little olive oil for a short time and remove it from the pan. add the parsley , garlic, cayenne pepper , cumin , fresh tomatoes To the remaining sauce in the pan. Put the beef back and season it with soy sauce and red onions. Traditionally, it’s served with rice and french fries.”
The restaurant offers a short but well-selected daily menu of 10 to 12 dishes, among which there is always at least one warm vegetarian dish, excluding the salads. “If a guest who has never eaten Peruvian food comes to the restaurant, my recommendation of meals to them would depend on whether they are broad-minded or conservative. Peruvian cuisine is very diverse because of the influence of various cuisines and cultures. It can be both exotic or domestic and simple. The most famous Peruvian dish is ceviche, which is made from raw fish, marinated in lime juice, ginger and garlic – a dish that is not for everyone, but it is very delicious and my favorite.”
In this restaurant they adhere to original recipes, but they support the concept of using as many local products as possible. “Of course, fish used in ceviche is not from Bulgaria, but generally only 5 of 60 dishes that I offer for this season are made from products that I can’t find here. I don’t think I need to use only imported ingredients for the meals to be authentic and Peruvian.”
Most visitors to the restaurant are Bulgarians, about 80%. “In Butchers it used to be the opposite, 60% of the customers were foreigners, but the prices of the dishes were much higher. Now the ratio is the opposite.”
Interview and photos: An Fam
Translation from Bulgarian: Boyan Boychev
Illustration: Kremena Cholakova for Compote Collective
November 30, 2013