Ceviche’s recent closure left us without a go-to Latin-American raw fish and lime juice purveyor. So naturally we were excited when their helmsman, Diego Ferro teamed up with Bistro Burger’s Hugo Rodriguez to El Bodegon, a similar Peruvian ceviche depot that promised to be like Ceviche, but with Asian fusion touches. Unfortunately, it only exacerbated our longing for Ceviche, both the restaurant and the foodstuff.
Turquoise-colored wood tables juxtaposed with drab wood paneling lend El Bodegon a simultaneously subtle and vibrant character. The service is smiley but a tad loosey-goosey, even for Shanghai. They didn’t seem all that familiar with the offerings, and plunked down our plates and briskly walked away without telling us what they were. It was like we were at a wonton soup den. Not that we needed an explanation, but it dampened the friendly South American vibe they were trying to get across.
The panceta del cerdo
Naturally, the mainstay is ceviche. But whereas Ceviche, the restaurant, ensured that its sauces gave the fish itself a wide enough berth, allowing the pristine natural flavor to shine, El Bodegon seems to do the opposite. Our Tiradito Del Pescador (55RMB) was over-salted and “over-citrused,” as if it had something to hide. Indeed, the fish tasted a bit underthawed. The Tiradito Peru-Japan (65RMB), an homage to Japanese influence on Peruvian culture, with calamari-esque squid tentacles atop raw fish fares a bit better, but doesn’t buck the trend.
Out of the “filler section” the recommendation was the Alas Peruanas, Peruvian-style chicken wings with a side of panoa-chili sauce (45RMB). Our wings were watery and bland, although the sauce tasted conversely zingy and delicious. We recommend vigorously coating them in it like a brush with house paint.
Their piece-de-resistance actually isn’t Ceviche at all, but rather the panceta de cerdo (80RMB), a formidable hunk of roast porchetta-esque fatty pork with a crunchy roof of pork skin. Perhaps too crunchy, bordering on impenetrable actually. You have to slice it from the side, rather than down the middle, as if you’re navigating around the carapace of a big pork tortoise. Once the skin comes off however, it breaks down into crispy, greasy pork cracklings that assuage the spot.
Despite some strengths in the mains section, El Bodegon is definitely the weak link out Shanghai’s roster of ceviche ventures.
El Bodegon – 4/F, 83 Changshu Lu, near Julu Lu (常熟路83号4楼, 近巨鹿路). Tel: (0)21-3160-3850. Hours: 11am-11pm. Closest metro stop: Changshu Road, lines 1/7.
See a complete list of our food reviews here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].
[Image via Foursquare]