El Ají Restaurant opened last fall from the owners of Cholo Soy.
Here's my late rundown on the Peruvian dinner that two of us enjoyed there in early November. I'm posting to check for updates.
First up, Ceviche Chalaco, basa fillets marinated in tangy lime juice and mildly spicy aji amarillo. And for more pow, some hotter rocoto chile sauce on the side. Wonderful mix of flavors but they couldn't make up for the earthy-tasting basa.
Causa de cangrejo stuffed a bountiful amount of sweet crabmeat inside a shell of potato puree, then napped generously with creamy aji amarillo sauce.
Ocopa, another cold appetizer, was all about the velvety green sauce coating slabs of potato and a hard-cooked egg. Creamy and scented with huacatay (black mint), garlic, aji amarillo and a faint back note of toasted nuts, the salsa ocopa tasted greener and not as rich than La Mar's version.
Arroz con mariscos was loaded with assorted shellfish, most of it overcooked for my taste. The rice was on the soft side, but deliciously flavored from the seafood. While I probably would not order this again, it just did not standout the way the other dishes did.
Seco de cordero, a beautifully braised lamb shank was our favorite of the night. Juicy meat and jelly-like cartilage was fall-off-the-bone tender bathed in a dusky and meaty gravy scented with coriander and cumin. Beautiful fluffy rice and creamy peruano beans alongside filled out the plate.
Crema volteado for dessert was a flan-like egg custard with a sugary top. Too many bubbles spoiled the texture.
Very reasonably priced including a bottle of Pellegrino and a maracuya (passionfruit) juice, we had a ton leftover to take home.
Our server seemed only vaguely interested in doing her job. She said she was new and turned out not to be familiar with the dishes nor how to run a credit card. Mostly she played with her phone. She was not comfortable in English so perhaps there was too much of a language barrier.
El Aji Restaurant
3015 Mission St. (at 26th Street)
San Francisco CA
Maria Carmen's positive review was published October 31, 2015 a few days before we ate there.
Anna Roth's later February 2016 article expressed heartbreak.
Anyone been more recently who can update us?