Written by: Katrina Vargas Vila
Chef German Gonzalez has mastered his culinary skills all over the world. He has cultivated his unique fusion style in over ten countries and has been creating amazing dishes for over 30 years. He's lived in Hong Kong, Barcelona, Costa Rica, and even Cuba, but the fact that he has opened his very own Peruvian Japanese Fusion restaurant in the quiet neighborhood of Bay Harbor means us locals are VERY lucky that he's so close to home! O'Lima Signature Cuisine is a true testament to his work and the amazing flavors you taste when dining there is his experience, his passion, and his travels. This Chef owned restaurant is his canvas where he brings his masterpieces to your table. When I asked him about his following and his consistency, he humbly introduced us to his Sous Chef, Miguel, who also happens to be his brother. They have been cooking together for over 25 years. They worked together in Costa Rica and at the famous Adrianna's in Surf Side where they earned a loyal following. Gonzalez decided to open in the Bay Harbor location because his client base really wanted him back.
To be honest, I’ve never had a Pisco Sour before. I had the Passion Fruit Pisco and I think I’ve found a new go-to drink to put into my rotation! It was sweet – which is just the way I like my cocktails.
Sautéed scallops topped with gorgonzola cheese in a Chicha Morada reduction. This appetizer was LIFE-ALTERING-OUT-OF-CONTROL-AMAZING! I love seafood, so trust me when I say I've had my share of scallops. This, by far, is top two I've had in my entire life. The other being at a Michelin Star restaurant in Quebec City, Canada. The combination of baked cheese with the Chicha Morada created the perfect balance between sweet and salty. Admittedly, I'm not an expert on Peruvian cuisine. Chef Gonzalez explained to me that Chicha Morada is actually a purple variety of corn and I was shocked. The sweetness of the reduction resembled one you'd think was derived from berries. Perfectly presented on the shell, these scallops were hearty. They were so amazing that my husband (who is always a gentleman and saves the last bite for me) insisted that we play a round of Rock-Paper-Scissors in order to decide who would get the last bite. Yes, that happened and I still got the last bite! This was my favorite dish of the night.
Thin slices of fresh tuna served in a delicious Mexican-Nikkei fusion sauce. Nikkei is best described as the love child of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines. Chef Gonzalez takes it to the next level and throws some Mexican influence into this dish. It has a creamy, delicate sesame flavor that pairs nicely with the fresh tuna. Topped with ripe avocado slices and sesame seeds, this item from the ceviche bar is a must-have.
Okay... so the story behind this menu item hit my soft spot. Chef Gonzalez created it because his wife does not like the texture of raw fish. In a true labor of love, he created Ceviche a la Brasa. It is a grilled ceviche that has a subtle smokey flavor profile. Don't worry, it is paired with a sauce that gives you the same citrus flavor we all come to expect from ceviche. It is paired with char grilled sweet potatoes and roasted red onion that really take this dish to the next level.
Pulpo a la Parilla is grilled octopus. Cooking octopus is tricky since it has a tendency to reach a stiff, rubbery texture if not done properly. Testament to Chef Gonzalez's skills, this pulpo happens to be the BEST octopus I have ever had. Aside from being cooked to perfection, Gonzalez serves it with potatoes and it is gorgeously presented on a platter with dollops of olive and rocotto sauce. The olive sauce adds depth and the rocotto sauce adds a light kick of spice. Mix the two together and you have just created magic.
You definitely have your choice of saltados at O'Lima. We were presented with juicy Angus beef tenderloin sautéed with red onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Typically, traditional saltados are served in a pisco soy sauce, but Chef Gonzalez makes his with cream (which is obviously an instant winner in my book). It was served with fried mashed yucitas that are stuffed with Gouda cheese - SO GOUD!
There are so many components that make a restaurant stand out: service, ambiance, décor, and quality. O'Lima does each of those things very well. Even when I was my not-so-graceful self, one of the servers discreetly switched out my napkin. I saw Gonzalez checking in at every table, connecting with his customers, and genuinely happy to do so.
Towards the end of our dinner, the Chef checked back in with us. I'm not sure how it came up, but I started telling him how much I love arroz con leche. Lucky for me, it's on the menu except it's not anything like I expected. This arroz con leche is FRIED, topped with roasted quinoa and sits in pisco cream with toasted caramel. Pisco soaked raisins add a touch of extra sweetness in the fritter and so does the chicha morada garnish that I shamelessly licked off the plate.
How I hadn't been to O'Lima before this is beyond me. It is one of THE BEST restaurants I have ever been to. Go and check them out for yourselves.
O'Lima Signature Cuisine | 1052 Kane Concourse Bay Harbor Island, FL 33154