Oddly enough I fell in love with Peruvian food when I was living in Japan (of all places). There was a delectable Peruvian restaurant in the city I was living in that served anticuchos, deep fried plantains, civiche, salchipapa and purple chicha corn drink. Mmmm. However, having left Japan over a decade ago and with the lack of Peruvian restaurants in Southern Ontario, I had not had the pleasure of indulging in any Peruvian delicacies in a looong time. So I was pretty excited to hear about the opening of a Peruvian restaurant right here in Hamilton.

Culantro Peruvian Cookery has only been open a few months but they have already garnered rave reviews and drool worthy pleasantries with regards to their food.

So on an impromptu early dinner meet up with a few friends, we decided to check Culantro out for ourselves.

We were greeted by the super hospitable chef and Co-owner Juan Castillo, who went above and beyond to make us feel welcome, and to ensure that everything that we ordered was totally perfect (and it was).

I ordered two empanadas; one carne and one pollo with a side of sweet potato fries.

culantro empanadas & carne, hamilton

Steve ordered two empanadas with the veggie salad

The empanadas and sauces were super delicious and totally hit the spot. I wanted to eat about a dozen more. In fact, I remember saying out loud that I kinda wanted to sleep on a pillow of empanadas so that whenever I woke up I could just go “omnomnom” and then fall back to sleep dreaming of eating more empanadas.

The carne empanada was stuffed with prime ontario steak, olives, raisins, and a boiled egg. I know a boiled egg! It may seem a little weird to some, but you have to trust me, it was so super delicious.

On the menu there’s also quarter, half and whole marinated rotisserie chickens (polo a la brasa), which someone at our table also ordered and it was mega yum!

Before our meals were complete Juan came out to chat with us, and to bring us all a little sample of their chicha morada, which is a drink made from purple corn juice with a twist of lime, pineapple and a hint of cinnamon. It was beautifully refreshing with all different sorts of  subtle hints of flavours that tickled my tastebuds.

To find out a little more about the story behind what brought Co-owners Juan, and his sister in law, Catharine to open up a Peruvian restaurant in Hamilton check out their blog here.

In the mean time if you haven’t been to Culantro yet, you should. You can’t go wrong with their empanadas.

The next time that I hear they’ve got pork belly and ceviche on their daily special I’ll have to pop in for another visit, and maybe I’ll indulge in another empanada (or two).

*Culantro 47 King William St. moved to 537 Main Street East 905.777.0060 @culantrocookery

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