La Mar in San Francisco Completes Menu Enhancement Envisioned By New Chef Diego Oka
Chef Diego Oka, who was appointed Executive Chef at La Mar Cebichería Peruana in San Francisco last December, has now completed his planned enhancement of the restaurant’s menu while at the same time maintaining the signature focus on authentic Peruvian cuisine.
“I saw in Chef Oka the ideal combination of Peruvian sensitivity, professional experience and personal passion to bring our menu to a whole new level and I gave him carte blanche to do so” comments La Mar’s General Manager Gabriele Originario.
Chef Oka, now 29 years old, is a native Peruvian and has Japanese ancestry. Intrigued by the culinary arts at an early age, his career has now spanned two continents, plus he has represented Peru at a gastronomical summit in Madrid, helped win first place at the Girotonno competition in Cerdeña, Italy, and participated in food festivals in Japan and the United States. Committed to giving back to his community, Oka has joined with other high profile industry professionals to teach underprivileged youth in Peru cooking skills that enable them to find employment. Oka was part of the team that opened the first La Mar Cebichería in Lima, Peru, and has subsequently done the same in Mexico City and Bogotá.
The La Mar menu, originally conceived by internationally renowned chef/owner Gastón Acurio, serves as an introduction to traditional and authentic Peruvian flavors and dishes, and showcases fresh seafood with influences from China and Japan. The mostly small plates format encourages family-style sharing. Signature offerings include Cebiches (Peru’s national dish, made with 100% sustainably caught fish and shellfish marinated in “leche de tigre”), Causas (whipped potatoes topped with seafood or vegetarian ingredients), Ensaladas(Peruvian inspired salads), Empanadas Peruanas y Frituras (house made with a variety of fillings, fried and served with dipping sauce), Anticuchos (traditional grilled skewers), and Peruvian classics and modern main courses. Vegetarian and glutton free items available.
Not to be missed are La Mar’s intriguing desserts prepared by Pastry Chef Astrid Gutsche. Diners can enjoy Buñuelos de Chocolate (orange glazed chocolate beignets with banana and passion fruit ice cream) and Picarones (traditional warm pumpkin and sweet potato fritters with spiced honey).
The restaurant’s “New World” international wine list, compiled by Master Sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji, has about 200 selections, 18 available by the glass. The list is divided between small, artisanal producers from California, and selections from South America and Spain. The full bar’s cocktail menu showcase Pisco, Peru’s national drink, and goes beyond the classics like Pisco Sour, to feature a dozen specialized cocktails including Chilcano with Pisco (ginger beer, lime juice and angostura bitters). Traditional Peruvian beverages such as Chicha Morada (made of purple corn, spices and fruit) and Inca Kola (Peru’s national soda) provide a non-alcoholic alternative. Both local and international beers are available, including several Peruvian offerings, as well as sake. Daily Happy Hour, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., gives guests a chance to enjoy special pricing on drinks and food.
The clean minimalist décor of La Mar is the work of Cass Calder Smith and CCS Architecture, Inc. (Barbacco, La Toque, Perbacco, Restaurant Lulu, Rose Pistola, Twenty Five Lusk and many more) and it complements the beauty of the historic Pier 1½ building, on which the restaurant is located. Highlights of the main dining room, which seats 103 guests (plus 126 more in the bar and lounge), include an aqua blue and sea green color scheme, wood accents, an exhibition kitchen, Bay views, a high ceiling, track-mounted spot lighting, oversized windows which allow for lots of natural light, a polished marble floor in the dining room, and banquettes. There is a Chef’s Table, which can accommodate 20, an all-weather dockside patio with seating for up to 80, and substantial private and semi-private dining options.
La Mar Cebichería Peruana is located on Pier 1½, on the Embarcadero across from Washington Street, in San Francisco, California. The restaurant is open daily, serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with dinner offered Sunday through Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 pm and Thursday to Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Parking is available at nearby garages, plus neighborhood meters are an option. There is also a private boat dock at which vessels up to 40 feet in length can tie up for three hours at no charge. For more information or reservations, also available at OpenTable.com, visit www.lamarsf.com or call (415) 397-8880.