To fully appreciate PeScados Capitales, you need to understand that their name is a pun. In Spanish, “pecado” translates to “sin”, but add just an “s” and you have “pescado,” which is fish. The restaurant took excellent advantage of that by naming themselves “pecado capitales” (cardinal sins), but technically “peScado capitales” (cardinal fish/sins). You get it. Basically, the “s” is all squiggly and sideways to emphasize their superbly punny name.
Now, all of this is ok until you realize two things: (1) how committed they were to that pun and (2) puns (and jokes based on word play in general) don’t translate very well. Ivo and I waltzed in bantering with each other in English as we usually do, and one of the waiters pegged me as a gringa. Let me in advance give him full marks for considerately offering me an English menu. Unfortunately though, the weight of the gesture was kind of lost once I opened to the first page: my personal favorite among the many mangled poetic descriptions was for the dish Freudian Lust, in which “Burning cephalopods do not stop playing on the grill cefalopoditas.” It just sounds super kinky.
In short, Google translate is not the same as actual translation, kids. The future is close, but it’s not now just yet: You still need to hire an actual human to do real translation. And it’s a damn shame that PeScados Capitales didn’t, because I bet their menu is actually awesome. Needless to say, Ivo did the ordering for us.
The place had a sort of beachy vibe, and to be honest, we were still a bit in hangover recovery mode, so we started off with a round of maracuya juice, one frozen and one chilled. They also brought us some complimentary “appetizers,” which seems to have become popular in Lima restaurants lately: basically it’s a single “bite” of a whole dish condensed into one large, ceramic “spoon.” The spoon-sized appetizer was pretty convincing, and we ended up straight off with a round of mango ceviche appetizer “spoons.” No surprise, the sweet chilled mango blended happily with the lime juice and white fish. We also got experimental and tried ordering a non-ceviche from the ceviche restaurant: olive rice with a cream sauce over cooked shrimp and squid. Now, it could have just been the lingering hangover squirms, but this warm dish didn’t sit quite right with me in the heat of the day; the olive rice was a little pungent. Fortunately/unfortunately, despite the heftier price on it, the portion was small.
The real star of the show was the ceviche. I can’t fault the place for anything on this round. Ivo was especially quick to point out that you can often peg quality ceviche by the the non-immediate ceviche “ingredients.” In particular, in this case, the sweet potato was the marker: A hunk of sweet has to come with the ceviche. Ceviche without the hunk of sweet potato would be like steak without mashed potatoes. I mean, sure, it’s still great, but no matter how much steak you stuff in your stomach, some part of you will never feel truly full. Like mashed potatoes, the sweet potato hunk also has a surprising range of quality. Sure, just boiled and chucked into the mix, it’s still delicious sweet potato and it’s going to complement the ceviche regardless. But PeScados Capitales really went the extra mile: Our sweet potato hunks had been boiled, carefully skinned, somehow saturated with brown sugar, then sculpted into two flawless potato halves. Overall, this place was the perfect transition back to a healthier, livable reality after our weekend of boozy debauchery.