I have been to Chicha on East Broadway for dinner several times over the past year or two and have always been delighted by their colourful, Peruvian-inspired dishes, delicious hand-crafted cocktails, and warm, welcoming atmosphere. But despite my deep seeded love for this little local gem I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I heard they are now serving brunch. How could my go-to place for flakey empanadas and scrumptious meat-on-a-stick incorporate the unique Peruvian inspired flair that makes their dinner menu so fantastic into my favourite meal of the day?
Man, was I silly.
Chicha, created by co-owners Shelome Bouvette (Executive Chef), Allison Flook (Executive Chef), and Kumiko Umeno (General Manager), impressed me long before I knew the names behind this Broadway and Main hotspot. So, when my brunch companion and I went there for a visit one Saturday and Shelome offered to cook us up some of her favourite menu items, I put my inner skeptic aside and dug in!
Mimosas – Chicha Style!
What better way to start off brunch than with a delicious Mimosa? Blended with citrus and house-made Chicha Morada (a sweet Peruvian beverage made from purple corn), these gorgeous cocktails were light and refreshing, without being overly sweet.
Blueberry, Tarragon, and Lemon Scones – No Tea Required
Quickly following the delivery of our mimosas was a plate of blueberry, tarragon, and lemon scones.
During our visit we learned that Chicha has a small urban garden out back where they grow many of the ingredients featured in their seasonal creations, and the straight-from-the-plant freshness of the tarragon was evident in these delectable cakes.
Served on the side was jam made from the same purple corn as the Chicha Morada featured in the mimosas. Once again the morada influence cut the sweetness and perfectly complimented the scone’s fresh flavours.
Huevos Bendict – Everything You Ever Wanted Your Eggs Benny to Be, But Were Afraid to Ask
Ok, so honestly, eggs benedict has never been my thing. Soggy poached egg, a layer of usually questionable pork product, and an anemic looking English muffin bringing the whole thing together? Mlech! And don’t even get me started on hollandaise sauce…let’s just say it is not my thing.
The dish put before us that day however was a far, distant relative of eggs benedict as I know it.
Chicha’s Huevos Benedict is the equivalent of a third cousin, once removed, who moved to the big city, made their fortune, and despite sharing the same last name and prominent bone structure as their questionable relations always leaves people questioning how they and such an incredibly refined creation could share the same humble origins.
Here, the traditional English muffin was replaced with a cake made from cassava root, zucchini, and corn, which was pleasantly crispy on the outside, yet soft and flavourful on the inside. The next layers were constructed of a double-smoked bacon glazed with aji panca chili and maple, and then a small mountain of delicate baby spinach, lightly scented with cumin and aji amarillo (a Peruvian yellow chile pepper featured in many of Chicha’s dishes). Each cake was then topped with a perfectly poached egg and drizzled with aji amarillo hollandaise.
Oddly enough I feel a compelling need to talk about the breakfast potatoes served with this dish. Usually I view potatoes as filler food, but when urged to try them dipped in the house-made jalapeno and cilantro hot sauce, I felt obliged to give them a shot.
Remember what I said earlier about being silly? Well, once again my inner-skeptic was given a royal smack-down as the perfectly cooked, lightly seasoned potatoes and freshly made hot sauce had a next level, VIP, table-service-only party in my mouth.
Buttermilk and Sweet Potato Waffles – Not your Grandma’s Sunday Morning Fare
Historically, waffles have been my go-to brunch food so I was very excited when I saw Chicha’s rich, decadent take on this traditional favourite emerge from the kitchen. The plating of this dish was exquisite, with the sunny glow from the pisco-glazed mangos contrasting beautifully against the dark, rich texture of the sweet potato waffles.
The outside of the waffles were light and crispy, with the inside having a thick, interesting texture that looking back is difficult to explain. Heavy, yet not chewy, the unexpected robustness of the waffle innards worked well with the sweet mangos and dulce de leche crema that topped the dish.
If you or a fellow brunch lover has a sweet tooth this is definitely a must-try item!
Tuna Tataki – The Taste of Summer on a Plate
For those not into traditional brunch fare this salad filled with mixed greens, pea shoots, and crispy pieces of wonton is a fantastic option. The local Albacore tuna was crusted in black quinoa and served rare, making this a very refreshing dish. The dressing was light and zingy, making me wish I still had some of that delicious mimosa left to pair with this.
I do believe that when the inevitable wintertime blues that so many of us Vancouverites are familiar with roll in I will be returning to re-live the taste of summer with this salad and a Chicha mimosa (or three).
Ceviche – The Holy Grail
I must confess that I am not a ceviche connoisseur. My brunch companion on the other hand, who also happens to be my partner and the gentleman responsible for all of the photographs in this post, is a card carrying ceviche fiend.
One of the fantastic things about the brunch ceviche at Chicha is that it is always changing. The chefs use in-season and local, ocean-wise whitefish to create the dish, and on this particular Saturday it included halibut, corn on the cob, sweet potato, cilantro, red onion, and aji amarillo.
I tried to get my partner to vocalize his experience while he was devouring the final dish of our feast as he is usually a very articulate foodie. The exception to this rule unfortunately occurs when he really, really, REALLY digs what he is eating.
In hindsight, the courteous thing to do would have been to make a quiet, brief exit and leave the man alone with his beloved ceviche…but there is always a next time. And in regards to brunch at Chicha, there is no question that for us there will be many, many next times.
136 East Broadway
Brunch Hours: Saturday and Sunday from 10: 30 am to 2:30 pm.
Brunch seating is first come, first served, with no reservations accepted.
Nicole Westcott is a Vancouver dwelling, Fluevog wearing, happiness advocate. When not brunching or blogging she can be found frequenting wine tastings, diligently engaged in her quest to find the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich, or whipping around the Vancouver Seawall on her beloved bicycle, “Elwood”.