It takes two to tango, so Peruvian native Daniel Chavez, co-owner and chef of OLA Cocina del Mar, has teamed up with Lima-trained chef Mario Malvaez to open Singapore’s first authentic Peruvian restaurant. Slang for ‘party’ in Peru, TONO is characterised by lively salsa music and a maracas-wielding fish mascot.
There’s nothing dull about the food at TONO, either. Everything that hits the table is fresh, punchy and delicious – from its signature ceviche to the more traditional Peruvian dishes with names we can barely pronounce. There are three types of ceviche on the menu: Verde ($28), Clasico ($25) and Tono ($28), but go for the Tono. It’s served with thick chunks of trevally and deep fried baby calamari tossed in tiger’s milk, a mix of local limes, onions, chilli paste and fish sauce. We’ll be happy enough with a plate of this and a never-ending supply of bread, which arrives straight from the oven drizzled with chilli oil.
But because we’re greedy, we also get the escabeche causas ($22), a Peruvian take on a chicken potato salad and the chicken anticuchos ($22) to share. And it’s a good thing too, because the causas is too rich on its own – with almost half the mixture dolloped with mayo, we could barely taste the hint of aji panca (a dried, smoky chilli) peeping through. The anticuchos fairs better, with its juicy skewers of grilled marinated chicken in a savoury chalaquita sauce that’s also great to mop up with any leftover bread.
Save room for mains, because you won’t want to miss the arroz con mariscos ($34) and lomo saltado ($36). The first is a comforting, mildly spicy seafood rice dish garnished with slices of raw onions and herbs for a burst of freshness. And before you balk at the price of the lomo saltado, a beef stir-fry that looks like something from your usual cai fan haunt, be assured that you’re getting a quality cut of tenderloin that’s beautifully cooked.
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