This is kind of an unorthodox post. Most of the time, when I write a review, it’s mostly so that my friends and family know where to eat locally. Platillos Voladores (Spanish for “Flying Saucers”) is not exactly local. In fact, it’s not even in this country.
I’m actually writing this review at the insistence of my mother, who loves this restaurant so much that she brought me here during my recent visit to Colombia and promised the chef that her daughter would write a review on her blog. The restaurant is in Cali, tucked away on a street with a tiny sign that makes it very hard to see or find. Fortunately, I was with family that knew exactly where they were going. It labels itself a fusion restaurant, and the extensive menu shows it.
Not long after being seated, they bring out a bread plate with slices of white and wheat bread. It’s served with cream cheese topped with fruit sauce, which I skipped and opted for butter instead.
Their special cocktail consisted of passion fruit juice mixed with rum and macerated fruit (strawberries and kiwi), which they could also make non-alcoholic. The drink itself was pretty tart, but refreshing. And, the fruit was incredibly fresh and sweet, so the drink got sweeter as I drank more of it and let the fruit soak in longer.
One of the appetizers that we got for the table was the beef carpaccio. It was served under a bed of Parmesan cheese, greens, and crispy onion tangles. Eating raw meat in a foreign country went against everything that I was advised, especially since my last visit to Colombia was marred with some pretty horrific food poisoning. Still, if someone as picky as my mother trusts a dish, then I have no reason to shy away. I don’t regret my decision, because the carpaccio was one of the best that I have ever had. The beef was so fresh, and the vinaigrette that accompanied the dish struck a perfect balance without overtaking the dish.
One thing that I realized during this trip was that, in Colombia, ceviche is most commonly made with shrimp instead of fish. And, much to my dismay, a popular preparation for shrimp ceviche in Colombia involves ketchup and mayonnaise. So, I very much expected to have a hard pass on the ceviche when they ordered it, until it showed up at the table. It was topped with julienned green mango, red onions, and some avocado. The ceviche marinade tasted like it was a mixture of citrus and vinegar, which made it feel more like I was eating a shrimp salad than a ceviche, but it didn’t make it any less delicious. My aunt called dibs on the leftover vinaigrette and drank it.
The star of the dish, to me, was the stuff served on the side. Those puffy sticks are called carantanta. Basically, it’s a corn crackling. They take the dried up corn residue left on the pots when they make corn dough for tamales and other dishes and fry it until it’s puffy and crispy. Not only was it a great “chip” to eat with the ceviche, but it tastes great on its own. So much so, that we asked for two orders of the carantanta to take home. I’m still trying to figure out how to make some at home.
I had the Lomo Yin Yang for my entree, and the presentation of the dish is actually a pretty nice and clever play on its name. One side was a beef filet medallion smothered in a mushroom and blue cheese sauce. The other side was a beef filet medallion topped with crispy onion tangles and a 3-pepper sauce. Both sauces were incredibly rich, but in different ways. My meat was cooked perfectly, and the blue cheese sauce was not as intense as I imagined it was going to be. The pepper sauce had a kick to it, but not unpleasantly so. I was tempted to mix the sauces to see how they would taste together, but I decided to eat each side separately. And, it kind of shames me to admit it, but I completely ignored my side salad.
For the most part, I am usually underwhelmed by the food in Colombia, and had very low expectations. Yet, Platillos Voladores managed to blow me away. I hope that I can eat there again during my next visit to Cali, whenever that may be..
For more information on Platillos Voladores, visit their web site at http://www.platillosvoladores.com/