Alden Boon

Want a Taste of Peruvian Cuisine in Singapore? Head to Tono Cevicheria.

06/05/2018

Training for Machu Picchu,” I chuckled as I wrote the photo caption on Instagram Story, impressed by my own wit. Only I, gluttonous with an inclination to sloth, would make eating a (singular) component of a training regime for an arduous hike. But another thought flitted into my mind, a voice of reason saying that I had not strayed too far from well, reason — food is sustenance, fuel, and if I were to last a two-day hike, I must adapt my palate and be able to keep Peruvian comestibles down.

So here I was at my CrossFit-esque boot camp Tono Cevicheria, DUO Galleria, a dimly-lit restaurant of Peruvian romance, founded by Chef Daniel Chavez. I perused the training plan in a la-di-da manner, taking a little more time than I usually do to decide my pick.

When it comes to Peruvian cuisine, no conversation is complete without the mention of ceviche. As with any dish that is popular, the true origin of ceviche is hotly debated, though most historians agree it has its roots in Peru, beginning some two thousand years ago. The indigenous Moche people, who reigned over the northern coast of the country, used the juice of passionfruit to marinate raw fish and seafood. The Incas used chicha, a fermented beverage made of yellow corn. When the Spanish conquistadors came, they brought with them cilantro and other citrus fruits, and the natives tweaked their recipes with these newly-introduced ingredients. This citrus-based marinade is called leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk. As it interacts with the raw fish, the citric acid causes the proteins to denature at the molecular level, and the atoms are rearranged — similar to what happens when raw seafood is introduced to heat and cooked. In turn, the texture becomes dense and thick. So enjoying ceviche is, technically, not akin to eating sashimi.

Tono Cevicheria Duo Galleria Peruvian Cuisine
Tono Cevicheria Duo Galleria Peruvian Cuisine
Tono Cevicheria Duo Galleria Peruvian Cuisine
Tono Cevicheria Duo Galleria Peruvian Cuisine
Tono Cevicheria Duo Galleria Peruvian Cuisine
Tono Cevicheria Duo Galleria Peruvian Cuisine
Tono Cevicheria Duo Galleria Peruvian Cuisine

Tono offers four ceviche variations*, its tiger’s milk made with limes and ají: a spicy sauce whose key ingredients are cilantro, ají peppers, garlic amongst others. I went for the tasting platter*, so I could choose three of its offerings (S$35): a fixed roster of Mixto; Tono; and Nikkei. The Mixto* was a compilation of baby octopus and prawn, its feistiness coming from Rocoto chilli. Tono featured deep-fried baby calamari and hunks of white fish, soused in smoked ají Amarillo tiger’s milk that tingled with a spicy note. Boasting Japanese leanings and hence its fitting name, the Nikkei* came with yellowfin tuna, a dressing of sour-spicy interplay and was topped with shredded onion and films of nori.

I also had the Lima (S$22), a tor of crabmeat, tartar sauce with crinkled confetti-like sweet potato noodles at the apex. This is a type of causa, a classic Peruvian potato-based salad, usually served cold or at room temperature. Tiny globes of red quinoa as well as tobiko lent a juicy bite and the dollops of avocado puree a sweet note. For the main course, I went with the Aguadito (S$28)*, not the prettiest of dishes at Tono, but packing the same intensity. Long grain rice, crispy mackerel, tender chicken, cubed carrots and green peas (which I am averse to) were partially submerged in a coriander-cumin soup, and then stippled with red chilli powder. Dessert was Alfajores (S$12)*, which was butter cookies reminiscent of Royal Dansk cookies with a texture that immediately melted in my mouth, layered with chocolate filling that had the consistency of caramel. A frond of mint leaf, as well as cubes of mango topped the cookies, the latter providing a yang of sourness to the sweet.

At the end of my training, I was happy, and relishing the high I could not wait to go back for more.

nedla does not receive any compensation for its food reviews; all visits made are incognito. 

*Accurate as of time of visit. According to an article by Burpple, the restaurant has a new menu.

Tono Cevicheria
Address: DUO Galleria, 7 Fraser Street, #01-49/50, Singapore 189356
Operating Hours: Tuesdays to Fridays: 12pm – 3pm; 6pm – 10pm
Saturdays: 12pm – 3pm; 6pm – 11pm
Sundays: 12pm – 3pm

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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