The great Thi Nguyen recently did a fabulous write-up of LA Peruvian spots in the LA Times. Thi is an old time Chowhounder who was the editor of the Los Angeles edition of Chownews back in its heyday, and I won't try to redo his good work.
Everything he says about Puro Sabor, the traditional Peruvian spot in Van Nuys is true. On a recent visit, we loved most everything, including the various ceviches, the chicken fried rice (arroz chaufa) and the tender, stewed beef dish seco de carne. But the greatest dish of the evening was something that didn't appear in Thi's review, though Thi says it was in the original draft.
Picarones are pumpkin doughnuts served in syrup. As a doughnut fiend, it's hard for me to describe how excited I was when these heavenly rings appeared. Served fresh out of the frier, the doughnuts come piping hot and perfectly crisp. They have an eggy composition that makes them light and fluffy; imagine a twice-fried French cruller served hot and you may begin to understand the transcendent quality of these picarones. I didn't get too much pumpkin flavor from them. They are served in a palm sugar syrup infused with spices; I detected cloves and maybe some cinnamon. And be warned, you may find yourself not only spooning the syrup over the doughnuts, but spooning it directly into your mouth.
Doughnuts, of late, have migrated from diners and doughnut stands to the dessert menus of many high-end restaurants. I've had them at Grace, Craft, Mozza and Little Dom's. The picarones at Puro Sabor, however, were far and above the best restaurant doughnuts I've ever tasted. The doughnut dish, alone, is worth going back for.
6366 Van Nuys Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 91401