“One of my ideas was to have a food truck, go to the Coast and sell ceviche,” Dangelo de la Cruz told TN. The chef from Lima, who exchanged the Pacific Ocean for the Río de la Plata about 20 years ago, finally chose to open with his wife, the Venezuelan Luisana Quinta, the first “cevichera bar” in Argentina in the Once neighborhood. That was in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. The challenge went well: they already have three locations in CABA, in addition to another free-fork type restaurant serving Creole Peruvian food and, soon, a “Peruvian ice cream parlor.”
Dangelo and Luisana met when they both worked at the La Causa Nikkei restaurant, he in the kitchen and she in the administration. It was a crush from which the Asu Mare project was born, as they called their establishments, an expression of astonishment, “something like saying 'tremendous' or 'wow' for an Argentinian,” explained the Peruvian chef.
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Dangelo de la Cruz and Luisana Quinta opened Asu Mare in the middle of the pandemic. (Photo: courtesy of Asu Mare).
What is a ceviche bar
The concept is inspired by the street stalls in Lima, where ceviche is sold in carts “like the ones used for sugarcane” in Buenos Aires. “It is the most popular. They even give it to you in bags and you eat it on the street,” De la Cruz explained.
The ceviche bar “would be like replicating that in a restaurant, with fresh products, prepared in plain sight and at the moment by the cevichero,” he said. That it is visible is a key aspect for Dangelo: “It is something that gives people confidence, in addition to recreating the experience of the markets and wheelbarrows of Peru.”
Asu Mare was the first “cevichera bar” in Buenos Aires. (Photo: courtesy of Asu Mare).
The cook and his wife started from home, selling on weekends and through delivery. “As we saw that it was well received, we decided to open our first location in Once,” where there is a large Peruvian community. “We were 4 people, we worked 14-16 hours a day and did everything, from cooking to social media,” Dangelo recalled about the not-so-distant beginnings of the venture.
The ceviche caretillero, with catch of the day and squid cracklings. (Photo: courtesy of Asu Mare).
The formula stuck and a few months later they opened a second location, this time in Palermo. “We say that we serve ceviche in Once with a Palermo presentation and in Palermo with Once prices,” he laughed. A third location, on Paseo La Plaza, on Corrientes Street, was added in 2022 with a more “on the go” format and capacity for 9 covers.
The house specialty is ceviches, with nine varieties to taste, such as the Carretillero, which has the catch of the day and squid cracklings, recommended by the chef for those who are new to this world. The most experienced can opt for the mixed one, with fish and seafood in classic tiger's milk, accompanied by sweet potato, lettuce and field corn. Obviously, the chaufa rice, the chicharrones, the causa or the fusion of ceviche and the causa could not be missing: the “Cevicausa”.
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La parihuela, a well-spiced soup with seafood and fish. (Photo courtesy of Asu Mare).
The menu also offers “duos” and “marine trios” that allow you to try a little of everything, while for groups of 4 to 6 people there is the imposing “cevichero boat” that brings a variety of dishes such as ceviche, rice with seafood, chaufa with seafood, leches de tigre, choritos de chalaca, tequeños – a nod to Luisana – and fish and squid chicharrón.
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Among the desserts, the classics of Peruvian gastronomy such as Suspiro Lima, Tres Leches cake or crema volteada are “present”.
The tres leches cake, a classic of Peruvian gastronomy. (Photo: courtesy of Asu Mare).
The secret to a good ceviche? “The fresh fish, the limes and the seasoning,” said De la Cruz, who imports several ingredients from Peru such as ají Amarillo, ají panca and ají mirasol, the triad of chili peppers in Peruvian cuisine. They also use a base sauce of garlic, celery and ginger “which gives more strength to the ceviche.”
According to Dangelo, the Buenos Aires palate became more daring and, at the same time, “more demanding.” “Before they were more afraid of new experiences, but today ceviche has become something everyday and people are getting used to the levels of spiciness,” he said.
Dangelo and Luisana's next projects
Despite the economic crisis and the increase in the costs of imported raw materials, Dangelo and Luisana do not stop dreaming. They evaluate the possibility of opening a production center to be able to franchise the brand “with the same quality.” They will also soon open the “first Peruvian ice cream parlor in Buenos Aires” with typical flavors of the Andean country such as “chicha morada, Inca Kola”, but also Peruvian fruits and classics from kiosks there such as “Sublime chocolate” or “Morocha cookies”. ”.
And the dream of the food truck on the Atlantic Coast? Dangelo does not rule it out, but perhaps as “a seasonal business, in the summer.”