The only One – Sapa


In the land of the Inca (The Andes Region in South America)… long long time ago lived Inka Quapaq who was the ruler of the Kingdom of Cusco, his title was “Sapa”, meaning “The only one”, the only divinity at the time… Intriguingly, it’s also the name of a hill station in Northwest Vietnam… a major tourism attraction… green grass… flowers… beautiful… just like those Vegetarian Rolls Sapa offers…

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So Sapa newly opened at the same location of good old Zinc in Achrafieh… a pub with a very interesting “Peruvian” menu…

Now to make things clear, allow me to explain a bit about Peruvian cuisine: It is mainly consisting of old Inca cuisine, remnants of old times and a huge mix of colonial food from several influences:

  • Europe: (Spanish cuisine, Italian cuisine, German cuisine)
  • Asia (Chinese cuisine and Japanese cuisine)
  • West Africa

Without the familiar ingredients from their home countries, immigrants modified their traditional cuisines by using ingredients available in Peru: Peruvian cuisine was born…

The music was uncomfortably loud… I know I know, it’s a pub me diriez vous, however tonight, I was eager to share and hear impressions and opinions about the place and the menu… no can do… I have to admit however that I would have probably enjoyed it hadn’t I been so dedicated to my tasting task… but that’s just me… Chicho was roaming around and Kate and Leopold were already seated with delicious looking stuff in front of them… Pencell busy bees were floating here and there, making sure everybody was happy and comfortable… as always… people have no idea how hard these bees work all day… and most of the night to make sure their clients are satisfied… Cheers to the Bees!

The buffet was set so I headed there… Now ok, I know, I haven’t been to Vietnam, and I only saw pictures of the Sapa Hill, but indulge me… or you know what, just look at the pictures… especially those Light Vegetarian Rolls…

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Those Rolls were an absolute work of art, you would think a tiny miniaturized garden in an old ancient Asian city… transparent rice roll with stuffed… no… not stuffed… with planted green colorful vegetables inside it… it looked so much like something mother nature would do instead of a food item made by a very human chef… The taste was also great… but you’d feel guilty eating such beauty, no matter how good it is…

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The Black Quinoa was also superbly presented, however to the bite, it seemed a bit undercooked… very fresh and tasty though…

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The Shrimps Martini were a delice… a spoon of pleasure… a beacon of light in the dark dwelling of your mouth… bells of enlightments for your pallet… isn’t it obvious? Of course I liked them!

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The Mussels Ceviche, filled with salmon, seabass and shrimp chunks bathing in Ají (spicy sauce that often contains tomatoescilantro (coriander), pepperonions, and water) was gorgeous… The pomegranate ruby red seeds, delicately posés on the mussels were glowing, and made me think of old lost gems finally found deep in the sea inside of a magic coquillage… another work of art that tastes nothing less than perfection.

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The Goat Cheese Salad was ok, great effort in creativity and In taste, especially the dried fruit, but it just lay on the mediocre side compared to the other dishes along which it was presented…

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The Shrimp Halloumi Maki, was a great effort in integrating local cheese in a Japanese roll, really… but that’s it, it’s a good effort, I didn’t find its tastes married well together… maybe it’s just me… it was superbly presented though, really… a good effort…

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The traditional taco was presented in an original way: a Cone… although it did have one problem, it wasn’t usual taco bread… it was more of a regular whole wheat cone filled with crab and veggies with a creamy vinaigrette… good taste, good addition on the menu.

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The chicken Rock seemed to be marinated in soya, perhaps a little ginger… another Asian originated dish… Deep fried and covered with sesame seeds, the chicken was a bit dry, probably overcooked, but the overall flavor was there… I like chicken, and that dish has the potential to be a hit appetizer…

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And then… the burger… the Wagyu Sapa Burger… now follow me a bit… we already established in the beginning of the review that Sapa was Peruvian for “The Only One”, now Wagyu, is literally Japanese for “Japanese Cow”… so it’s safe to say that it translates: “The only Japanese Cow Burger” with which I’m fine and made my peace… the burger is a success, the meat is juicy and tender and cooked to perfection (medium well)… Enough said…

Despite the loud music… I can say: Mission accomplie… The Only One has been reviewed…

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Of course I didn’t talk about those amazing looking drinks that were served at the bar… but that’s only because my expertise does not go beyond food… and I wouldn’t want to be saying things I didn’t know squat about… I also wanted to be clear headed…

Now I would have loved to see on the menu some Tacu Tacu, Anticuchos and Cuy… which are more Peruvian traditional dishes inherited from the Inca, however what we had was good and completed well the menu.

I’m not sure I will come back for another food experience though, the general atmosphere does not encourage dining despite the beautiful presentation and general flavors… the music is really loud and I would probably settle for some quick appetizers with a good randomly chosen pisco…

Queshua Inka Gaston

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