Peruvian restaurant GK Bistronomie opened without much fanfare last October in Wynwood. Chef/partner Rafael Perez previously owned four restaurants in Ecuador, one of which, Zazu, in Quito, earned a place among the top 300 restaurants in the world by Relais & Châteaux. The Lima native also ran the kitchen at the high-end Little Palm Island Resort & Spa on Little Torch Key.
The restaurant's name is a play on the words "bistro" and "gastronomy," but everyone calls it GKB for short. Perez describes GKB's menu as globally influenced Peruvian cuisine. "We're using mostly Peruvian products prepared with very modern techniques."
During a recent visit to the industrial-style indoor/outdoor eatery, a seasoned waiter recommended the cherry wood–smoked shrimp ceviche ($17) of the six listed. It features Key West pink shrimp, heirloom tomatoes, orange, lime, cilantro, green plantains, and popcorn. If it sounds like a lot is happening, there is. But the potency of the lime renders all of the other flavors virtually indistinguishable.
It's a shame, because the Key West shrimp exude freshness, something that cannot be said for the tuna tiradito ($15). Like nearly everything at GKB, the yellowfin tuna appetizer looks almost too pretty to eat, but the raw fish isn't pristine, and it's mixed with an unsavory amount of sesame oil and soy sauce.
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Meanwhile, the empanadas are stuffed with foiegras, Campari-and-onion marmalade, and anise seeds. Though the dish is priced at $25, there's hardly any foisgras, and what's there is masked by the sweetness of the anise and the marmalade. Much better are the more straightforward pork taquitos ($10) with avocado mousse, microcilantro, and tomato salsa.
Next up, the anticuchos ($14). Generous pieces of perfectly cooked Black Angus skirt steak are placed on a bed of creamy huancaína sauce — a Peruvian blend of cheese, ají amarillo pepper, saltines, milk, and garlic. The deliciously spicy huancaína comes spooned over boiled potatoes and flecked with a chimichurri sauce and cilantro. It's a comforting yet dynamic dish that delivers with each bite.
The anticuchos are an example of Perez's less nuanced and more familiar dishes and suggest the chef does best when he shows some restraint and concentrates on quality ingredients. And though it's nice to see an upscale Peruvian restaurant — particularly one that ventures beyond the ubiquitous ceviche — join Wynwood's expanding culinary scene, GKB needs time to find its footing.
Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.