The Peruvian culinary invasion of Miami continues with Tunky Tunky on the Biscayne corridor at 110th Street.
The space has white brick walls with black-and-white photos of Lima and Machu Picchu in arched alcoves and soft Andean music. Although, if you’re looking to jam, Tunky Tunky has a karaoke bar in back that cranks after midnight on weekends.
Owner Juan Carlos Collazos, a former soap-opera actor from Lima, named the place after the national bird of Peru, native to the cloud forests of the Amazon. The talent manager also is writing a children’s book about a fish of the same name.
Collazos came to Miami 20 years ago for work, and he stayed. His sister Elvira is in the kitchen, turning out Tunky Tunky’s traditional Peruvian dishes.
Quinoa may be trendy now, but the ancient, high-protein seed was so sacred to the Inca people that they called it chisaya mama for mother grain. During the Spanish conquest, cultivation of quinoa was forbidden.
At Tunky Tunky, quinoa is added to salad as well as wok-fried in a chifa (Chinese-Peruvian) dish that’s dotted with scallions, soy sauce, egg and shrimp, beef or chicken.
Locro is a hearty potato soup spiked with aji amarillo and garnished with avocado and cheese.
There’s also ceviche made with corvina and shellfish; sashimi-like tiraditos in citrus-chile sauces; and causas (mashed potato cakes) layered with minced seafood in purple olive and chile cream sauces, served with salsa verde that’s spiked with huacatay — wild marigold leaves also known as black mint that have a sharp, sweet-anise flavor.
Wrap a meal with lucuma mousse made with an Andean fruit related to canistel (eggfruit) that tastes like butterscotch and dates.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.