I hesitated to write this review, to be honest. I never actually visited Chalan on the Beach: Justin was wonderful and brought our takeout dinner back to the hotel the night we flew into Miami, since it was long past Ian's bedtime. And my crummy, incomplete iPhotos of the food in ugly plastic takeout containers are not very sexy at all. But the food was so good, I really just felt like I had to tell you about it.
An order of ceviche de pescado was made with tender, but still firm, white fish that was not at all "overcooked" (overmarinated), probably the most common ceviche sin. The fish had been cut into substantial half inch cubes and were served with half a sweet potato (camote), slivers of onion, iceberg lettuce, hominy (mote), corn nuts (cancha) and cilantro. The sweet potato had been sweetened with honey, I think, or otherwise candied, an approach I'd never come across as a garnish for ceviche. Onion was sliced a bit too thickly, but it was nice and crisp. Leche de tigre was potent and acidic with lime juice, with a choice of mild, medium or hot. A dining companion and I both ordered our ceviches at medium heat, which was just the right amount for my tastes (and far too much heat for her tastes).
The ceviche de pescado y camarones / fish and shrimp ceviche was exactly the same as the ceviche de pescado, except with the addition of medium-sized, whole shrimp. These were also perfectly cooked and juicy, with the same kind of snap that good sausage links have, just barely past translucent.
|Ceviche de Pescado y Camarones|
An order of lomo saltado / sauteed strips of flap meat mixed with onions, tomatoes, and french fries with a side of white rice (pictured at the top of this post) was a really nicely executed version of a classic. Flavors were clean, clear and simple and the big, beefy flavors were left to speak for themselves. I like that the sauce was kept in its pure state, without thickeners. Tomatoes had been cooked down to just the right consistency, without being overly mushy.
An order of tacu tacu con lomo fino al jugo featured a gorgeous, crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, pan fried tacu tacu. I loved it passionately. Tacu tacu must be one of the most delicious comfort foods in the world and this was a very good version, made with the perfect ratio of rice, coarsely mashed white beans, and aji amarillo, all of it given a hint of smokey char from frying (probably in delicious lard). It came with lomo fino al jugo, which was essentially fries-free lomo saltado.
This is a restaurant I wish I had in my neighborhood, so I could try every last dish on the menu. I can't say anything about the service, decor or overall experience, but as far as food is concerned, I loved it at least as much as The Dutch, Sardinia and Pubbelly. It's a real South Beach treasure.
1580 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Food Rating: A