A Fork on the Road: K’Chapas
Normandy Isle goes international at Peruvian & Venezuelan K’Chapas
K’Chapas Peruvian and Venezuelan Restaurant
1130 Normandy Dr, Miami Beach
Hours: 9:30am-8pm Monday-Saturday, 10am-5:30pm Sunday
Prices: Breakfast $3.99-$6.99, appetizers $3.99-$13.99, entrees $7.50-$16.99, desserts $3.
Earth and surf is embraced at K’Chapas. The Marquez sisters, Marys and Carolina, serve grilled steak as well as ceviche at their beach outpost (brother Juan Carlos mans the original in Doral). The Venezuelan siblings bought the former Peruvian Pachamama in Normandy Isle and added a taste of home with specialties like the namesake cachapas (sweet corn cakes folded around salty white cheese).
"Its the best of both worlds," says Carolina’s 16-year-old son, Juan, who waits tables on weekends. Peruvian cook Milagros Fuentes makes coastal-style ceviche marinated in lemon and lime juice with sliced red onions and cilantro. Choose mixto (fish, squid rings, octopus and shrimp), conchas negras (tender black clams) or shrimp, all served with toasted cancha (popcorn) and choclo (giant corn kernels). There are also octopus nubs in lavender olive cream, tiraditos (sashimi-style fish in citrus juice) and choros a la chalaca (steamed mussels in the shell with lime juice, chopped tomatoes, corn and chiles), good with blackberry or soursop juice. Peru’s gift to the world is the potato. Here the humble tuber is sliced and smothered in cheese sauce tinted with yellow chile paste for papas a la huancaina and mashed for causa, a kind of savory cake stuffed with tuna or chicken salad.
Chilcano de pescado is a hearty soup with fish, scallions and potato chunks. Fries are tossed with sautéed beef and onions to make lomo saltado. Other typical dishes include tacu-tacu (refried beans with meat) and ají de gallina (shredded chicken in creamy walnut and chile sauce). Venezuelan snacks are made to order. Arepitas are mini white corn cakes with nata (thick sour cream). Perico (‘‘parrot'') brings scrambled eggs with ham, peppers and cilantro stuffed in an arepa with grated cheese. Or get carne mechada (shredded beef), black beans and cheese in an arepa. Tequeños are cheese fingers wrapped in pastry dough, perfect dipped in the house hot sauce made from jalapeños, garlic and cilantro. Dessert continues the two-country theme with Venezuelan rice pudding with cinnamon and Peruvian picarones (donuts) in brown sugar syrup.
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