Lima, Peru, is one of the world’s top destinations for travel when it comes to options for exploring delicious local cuisine.
Some restaurants in Lima are so well-known for being the absolute best at what they do, a visit is worth the entire trip to Lima, just to eat that one special meal.
Chez Wong is the home, the restaurant, the workplace of Chef Legend Javier Wong – and its a place that no foodie can ever forget.
The food is amazing, the atmosphere one of food creation magic – scroll down now, and read all the details of ‘Chez Wong’ Restaurant in Lima.
Peru, the Home of Ceviche
If you’re planning to visit Peru just for food – I will be the first to agree with your wonderful travel idea.
While you’re planning, I’m also right there with you, if you simply can’t control your excitement to eat recipes of authentic Peruvian Ceviche.
Ceviche is a deliciously straightforward and simple recipe, but it may just be one of the World’s Best foods.
For a dish that requires only fresh fish (or seafood) marinating in citrus juice (lemon or lime), and the varieties of ceviche here in Peru are incredible.
Javier Wong – Ceviche Genius
The genius combinations of what local chefs are doing with it here will just blow you away, they’re nearly endless, but let me tell you about one of these genius chefs in particular.
As Ceviche is originally from Peru, you can imagine its capital city Lima is going to be a great place to learn more about (and devour tons of) this wonderful food.
There can be no better place in Lima to have ceviche than in the kitchen of Javier Wong.
Don’t let these plain walls or ordinary-looking street corners fool you – the flavour that awaits behind this gate is something straight from your ultimate foodie daydreams.
The quality and care that Chef Wong puts into his work is so immediately obvious, you’ll immediately be appreciating and love the respect that he has for this wonderful food culture of Peru.
By Reservation Only
Walking in the door to Chez Wong restaurant, you can be confident that Javier Wong has everything ready for you, right down to the very last detail.
He needs to know exactly how many people are coming each day, because that determines how much of his specific selection of fresh items he will buy at the market that same morning.
That’s why his restaurant is open only to those who make their reservation (and the waiting line is not a short one… we’re talking weeks, sometimes months).
Opening Hours at Chez Wong
Chez Wong restaurant is only open for a few hours (lunch and late lunch), and only 5 days a week (Tues-Sat). You are going to have to make reservations to eat here, there are no walk-in customers.
It really is that precise, and the food here is always that fresh.
Attention to detail like this can show you right away the precision they work with here to give you what may be the best version of this particular Peruvian famous food.
Welcome to a Ceviche Paradise.
Head Chef Javier Wong
Its a joy watching Javier Wong work, even if you are not a foodie, as he works for nearly an hour in front of us almost without speaking.
There are few things in life more beautiful than being able to spend time with someone who dedicates their life to something they love, and more than that is so happy to share the fruits of their life with you.
A man of few words, Chef Wong shows huge amounts of both character and personality all the while during his extensive food preparations.
A Lifetime of Experience
This shows me more than anything though just how much experience Chef Wong has – his hands have made these recipes so many times, he literally is making them straight from the heart – almost no need to even think at all.
Gigantic sides of the freshest fish, even in his older age his knife is moving through them almost faster than I can photograph.
1PM – Lunch Is (Almost) Ready
The atmosphere in Chez Wong is similar to what you may expect when you know of the legendary reputation of Chef Javier Wong.
The dining room is small, and you can smile at how obviously they let the food speak for itself. The room is tidy, and extremely clean, the only decorations are a single wall full of photos and magazine covers, showing Chef Wong in interviews and featuring in various TV shows over his years of work.
The Chef Goes to Work
Chef Wong is not a young man, but he still walks quickly and confidently, exiting his office, and walking over to his cutting boards with a smile. He flips a few knives, choosing one from his personal selection, and leans down to grab a beautiful 10 kilogram fish from an ice tray.
Just seeing his hands grip the fish he selects so knowingly, you know its going to be a good day here together.
The First Course, Ceviche
So quick, so confident, even today his hands are still so sure.
He starts by taking only the filets from each massive Dover sole fish, and it’s amazing to watch him work.
Withe impressively strong movements, you can tell his hands know every bone – working the knife like shows a chef who knows perfectly the entire and exact anatomy of a favorite species of fish.
Huge Chunks of Fish Meat
There is a massive amount of variety in the way that Peruvian chefs make ceviche, the first thing I notice here is the large size of each cut he makes.
Besides this, the next thing that may strike you is the simplicity of ingredients.
I could only see him using 5 different things actually, beginning with the Dover Sole fish meat and adding chunks of fresh octopus, to this he adds lime juice (a lot of it), salt, and finally a tiny bit of black pepper.
Definitely one of the coolest things about this food, and Chef Wong’s style is obviously one that lets the quality of the raw ingredients speak for themselves.
Marinating raw fish in citrus juice is all a matter of feeling, and it is simply the years of experience that Chef Wong has, allowing him to master his skillful balance of lime juice, the thickness of each slice of fish meat, and the time in which they’ll marinate together, before he sends it all to your table.
The Ceviche King
Last but not least, there are about a dozen smaller dishes of Peruvian Aji peppers laid out around Chef Wong’s work station – each one pairs with one plate of ceviche.
Chef Wong makes all the food directly in front of the guests, which some might even consider to be a bit mean considering how he shows off every delicious detail in full (and the gorgeous smells can be tantalizing as well).
Serving the room in sections of tables (not all at once), he cuts just the two filets from one side of the first fresh fish before putting it back on ice. Each filet of fish meat makes about 10 plates of ceviche.
You Don’t Actually Order Here
Since you don’t actually order anything when you come here for lunch (and there’s no menu), Chef Wong decides what he will make each day, and who he serves it to first.
Therefore, a single table may receive two or three plates of ceviche at once, depending on how many people are at the table, and other tables may have to wait for their turn.
Watching Is Tantalizing
There are only 8 tables in the dining room, and though he won’t keep you waiting too long, it definitely could be several minutes between servings.
Try to enjoy the relaxing and low-key meal as it goes, and get ready for what may be the best ceviche in the entire world.
Note: Just so you know, we did see a party of guests politely turned away after they arrived without reservations. Not because Chef Wong is unfriendly, but because he buys exactly the amount of fish he requires each day (there are no leftovers for those who don’t make reservations).
A Masterpiece of Texture
Your plate finally arrives, and the waiting is over. You can try to be patient, but its pretty much impossible by this point (and you can watch our own video eating this Ceviche here).
Scoop up the first bite, remembering to re-hydrate your spoonful with another spoon of the milky leche de tigre just filling the bottom of your serving plate, and enjoy.
Truly Gorgeous Mouth-Feel
I couldn’t decide what hits first, the sourness, or the gorgeous mouth-feel.
Every bite of fish is so wonderfully soft, balancing with chewy, bouncy, lightly blanched octopus, both are so clean and simple that you can almost taste them individually.
There is a masterpiece of texture created in each bite, and you are not going to want anything more than just time to savor each one.
The Consistency is Incredible
This ceviche is full of thick chunks, almost cubes of fish meat, instead of the thin slicing style more common in street carts (see a totally different version here), and with the simplicity in the combination of these few ingredients, Chef Wong creates incredibly precise and clean flavors.
Chef Wong serving his amazing ceviche here is a superb example of what beauty there is in the expression of passion through sharing of food with others.
So MUCH more than simply “Raw Fish”
Ceviche is a food of few ingredients, and I think the most unique thing about it is that its not raw, but nor does it require any cooking in the preparation.
Adding so much citrus juice, just dousing the fish meat in it, this is what gives the chunks of fish in ceviche that white, less translucent look when comparing it to totally raw fish.
Making fish as ceviche also changes the meat’s texture, as the acid alters proteins in the fish – still though, this is raw fish, the lime juice cures but still does not ‘cook’ ceviche.
Therefore, only the highest quality of fish should be in a recipe of ceviche, as the meat will only kept on ice before the food preparation.
Chef Javier Wong knows this specific fish extremely well, as he only uses Dover Sole, which is a type of Flounder, in his recipes at Chez Wong.
Leche de Tigre, “The Tiger’s Milk”
With all of that citrus juice still remaining in the bottom of the dish, you may think to yourself whether its ok to drink it.
Some of the best news yet from your time in Peru, yes, you are welcome to ditch your spoon, and tip the entire container of it right into your mouth!
A staff member just may even come and put it into a cup for you, and this is what’s known here as ‘Leche de Tigre,’ or “Tiger’s Milk.”
This is something that you can even order as a drink to go with your meal at some restaurants, but its not likely that another place could even compare to the thickness or the richness of this mind-blowing shot of the tiger’s milk at Chez Wong.
Pure Flavor Overload
If you can imagine the entire flavor of an already very powerful array of sour, meaty, salty, and peppery tastes, then amplify this several more times and you are approaching the response your tongue will have to this pure shot of leche de tigre.
Prepare your mouth for a journey that is almost instantly incendiary, nearly overpowering for a moment, and yet so wonderfully blending to mildness in the next.
The sourness is intense, the consistency is milky and very thick, and the lingering peppery sensation is just beautiful.
Note: This isn’t something you order here, but if you ask a staff member, I’m sure they will be happy to put the tiger’s milk sour juice into a glass for you to savor.
Second Course, Fish Stir-Fry
I would love to be able to play with fire the way Javier Wong does while he’s cooking
Saying that he cooks over high heat is an understatement, and its a treat to step into the kitchen with him to watch the next dish come to life.
Serious Amounts of Fire
The flames from his wok and high-pressure gas nozzle whoosh to the ceiling almost immediately. One miniature explosion of flame after another, with fluid rhythm of just one hand, waves of fire roll over the fish, as well as the faces of everyone within an arm’s reach.
Everyone in the room steps back, except for the Chef of course, who just shows a small half smile, continuing without a flinch.
Serious Wok Skills
Something special you will notice is that he holds a huge metal spoon at the ready, but does not even touch the ingredients until the gas burner is off.
The meat is so soft that the spoon would mash and destroy many of those perfectly cut cubes of fish meat, and when you taste the fish for yourself you will understand.
He lets all that fire do its work, using the spoon only to ladle sizzling fish and smoking vegetables onto each serving plate.
Chef Wong actually sets what he wants to make each day (and from what I have read), sometimes he will even change what he is making as he is making it.
During our lunch today, we did not even decide portion size, or the number of courses. We simply order our drinks, and then sit back to enjoy the lunch experience.
Besides the ceviche, you can never know exactly what to expect here. I was extremely happy though, to see Javier Wong serving to us one of the largest plates of stir-fry I have ever seen in my life.
The blend of flavors in this plate of stir-fry is exquisite. Not only that, but what I like the most is that the flavors are matching with possibly the most texture-full stir fry I can ever remember.
The final ingredients are again, surprisingly simple, and so totally delicious – fish meat, snow peas, a type of chard vegetable, pok choy, some thick round big-headed mushrooms, and amazingly, a ripe tangerine!
Like with the ceviche, Chef Wong chops all of the ingredients in front of you, placing them one on top of the other in a huge stainless shell mixing bowl.
Seeing him prepare like this, you might be surprised as I was -t he adds everything into same bowl, meaning he’ll also add it into the wok pan all at the same time as well!
An Amazing ‘Secret’ Ingredient
Knowing the exact ripeness, crispness, and readiness of each ingredient, he combines all of them from the beginning, filling the pan only once.
Instead of timing the order of each item, adding them one after another into the pan like most chefs will do, he shows his expertise with this specific and short list of ingredients over all the years that he has been cooking here.
If I didn’t watch him do it just moments before, I wouldn’t believe how wonderful the fresh orange in such a massively hot stir fry could be.
Tangerine in the Stir Fry
Large chunks of incredibly soft fish, the softness of the tangerine, are a masterful touch to the more chewy mushrooms, finally finishing with each crisp crunch of the white chard stalk and delightfully fibrous snow peas.
Soy sauce, but only a bit, almost just for color, and not a single bit to hide behind as some chefs could easily do. Every flavor was boldly obvious, so simple, and so successful in the combination as a whole.
A Great Day with Chef Wong
Of course the ceviche is outstanding, truly deserving of its international fame… And that spicy, salty, and milky leche de tigre is just a knock out of flavor perfection to your tongue (even your entire body) as well
However, the straightforward and clean vibrant flavors of the stir-fry are also just mind blowing.
I cannot choose between them which one I like more, bit I know that I definitely want more of both of them right now.
The quality of Chef Wong’s cooking here is so beautiful in its simplicity, its honesty, and this is easily the restaurant that I would put at the top of my list any time I visit Lima, Peru.
Restaurant Info Below
Allow yourself to be blown away by this man’s delicious cooking, and a love for the cuisine of his Peruvian homeland.
His passion for food is so obvious and outstanding, I highly recommend a visit to Chef Javier Wong at Chez Wong Restaurant, the next time you are in Lima, Peru.
Name: Chez Wong
Location: Google Maps (link here)
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday open 1pm to 330pm, Closed on Sunday and Monday.
Price: Total price for our meal (4 people) came to 545 Nuevo Soles (US$165)