His culinary roots started at home with his Having tired of life as a civil servant with the Housing Society of Quebec, Oré decided to turn passion into a career and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu culinary school in Lima, studying traditional Peruvian cuisine. Oré is a restaurant veteran who also owns HuacaMar and Ceviche Bar in Trujillo and the Mochican Palace Hotel, a five-star hotel in Huanchaco, Peru.
The menu at Mochica is seafood heavy, paying homage to Trujillo, a coastal city abundant in fish and shellfish. Ceviche features prominently on the menu, although, if you want to experience something that is reflective of Peruvian culture, you’ll want to opt for the tiradito, a cousin to ceviche that was influenced by Peru’s Japanese ex-pats.
Meatier options include the anticucho de corazon or grilled beef heart. If you’re feeling really adventurous, there’s also alpaca on offer. Traditionally, a llama was sacrificed to the gods, but Oré has decided to source his meat from the alpaca (llama’s smaller cousin) farms of Quebec. For those who have never tasted alpaca before, Oré describes it as somewhere between lamb and veal. The drinks menu is pisco-heavy, from the traditional pisco sour made from lime, sugar and spirits to more unconventional offerings like passion fruit (Mochica, 614 College St., 647-352-1641).
NOT SO BASIC
Noted restaurateur Hemant Bhagwani, of Leaside’s amazing Amaya, has opened his newest project, Leela Indian Food Bar, in the Junction. The restaurant’s moniker is a nod to — an epic play that depicts the life of Rama, an incarnation of the god Vishnu, and is staged over a 10-day period (or sometimes longer). Bhagwani wanted to connect the imagery of rich colours, sets and history with the vibrant flavours of Indian cuisine. An artistic depiction of Rama serves as the focal point of the restaurant’s decor.
“Indian food has become too boring,” says Bhagwani, before stating that the cuisine is either traditional or going modern. He hopes to play with recipes that are rooted in tradition and refine the flavours. For instance, his HB’s butter chicken ($12.95) is smoked over charcoal, and in place of the common canned tomatoes that most restaurants use in their recipes Bhagwani uses extremely ripe tomatoes to give it intensity of flavour.
You’ll also find menu items that pay homage to cuisines that have been influenced by India. The kadhai “kali mirch” chicken ($9.95), for example, is Chinese wok-fried with black pepper and tossed with onions and banana peppers. The paneer lasagne ($10.95) subs in thin slices of paneer as lasagna sheets and minced eggplant as the filling. The inspiration behind it stems from a trip Bhagwani took to Miami, where he dined on zucchini lasagna at a plant-based restaurant. His “Indianized” version is a dish he’s particularly proud of (Leela Indian Food Bar, 3108 Dundas St. W., 416-769-7777). located at 1438 Yonge St., received a conditional pass following a Feb. 6 inspection. One crucial infraction was observed, and the establishment failed to ensure the presence of the holder of a valid food handler’s certificate. It passed a Feb. 7 reinspection. located at 649 Yonge St., received a conditional pass following a Feb. 8 inspection. Of three infractions observed, one was considered crucial, one significant and one minor in severity. It passed a Feb. 10 reinspection.
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Clockwise from top: Leela’s chicken naan, their paneer lasagna and Mochica’s mero a lo macho seafood dish Dumpling Queen,