Home News NYC hidden dining gems: Jora’s Peruvian dishes almost too pretty to eat…...

NYC hidden dining gems: Jora’s Peruvian dishes almost too pretty to eat… almost


When restaurants make plates of food too pretty, it makes me fear they’re overcompensating on presentation to make up for flavor. But some spots are showing that pretty food doesn’t always mean bland taste. At the top of that list is Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens.

Run by Lima native and chef Alejandro Rojas, who goes by Alex, Jora has been running strong for ten years. I sat inside with a friend, though, there’s an outdoor patio ideal for sipping cocktails on a warm, summer day.

Causa croquettes at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
Causa croquettes at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

Chef Rojas gave us a thorough rundown of the menu, and I began to notice a pattern. He would identify one dish as being the way that one would eat it in Peru and follow it with a very similar dish that he would describe as a modern variation on the classic. Following his lead, we ordered the Nikkei tuna ceviche, the ceviche clasico, the veal heart and hanger steak anticuchos, the pastel de choclo (a creamy custard-like cornbread “pudding”), the causa croquettes, the grilled corn causa, and a trio of empanadas.

Grilled corn causa at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
Grilled corn causa at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

While waiting for our plethora of dishes to come out, we grabbed a cocktail, the majority of which are pisco-based. Similar to brandy, the grape-derived liquor is the national spirit of Peru.

As we sipped, plates that looked like paintings began to come out. The menu recommends diners order family style, and as they placed each dish on our table, that concept made total sense. The portions here are large enough to share without being overwhelming.

The causa croquettes immediately stood out to me, mainly because fried food was simply calling to me after a few sips of my boozy cocktail. Three blocks of panko-breaded fried potato puree with aji amarillo sat in a base of huancaina sauce, a spicy Peruvian cheese sauce, with a sprinkling of plump crispy corn kernels and olive dust. The fried potato squares are topped with a creamy smoked chicken salad and finished with bright green herbs. This spicy, salty dish is ideal for pairing with one of Jora’s many Pisco cocktails.

Nikkei Tuna Ceviche at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
Nikkei Tuna Ceviche at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

The other causa dish ordered was the grilled corn causa, arguably the prettiest plate of the evening. The vibrant purple potato puree had an Asian flair with sesame and togarashi mayo.

The tasting of empanadas included lomito (beef stir fry), aji de gallina (chicken), and choclo (quinoa and mozzarella). The pastries were topped with powdered sugar. Rojas explained that topping empanadas with powdered sugar is the typical Peruvian way, giving just a kiss of sweetness to an otherwise savory bite.

Lucuma ice cream at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
Lucuma ice cream at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

Anticuchos, a popular Peruvian street snack, are typically made with veal heart, which Jora offers, but a hanger steak variety is on the menu as well. I tried both, and the traditional veal heart won my vote.

But when it came to the ceviche, where I tried both ceviche clasico (made with fish, lime, toasted corn, red onion and cilantro) and the more modernized Nikkei tuna ceviche (made with yellowfin tuna, wonton crisps, jicama, lotus, yuzu and sesame leche de tigre), the modernized tuna ceviche blew the traditional out of the water. The sesame perfumed the table, enticing our senses before we even dug in. My friend and I collectively agreed that the Nikkei tuna ceviche was the best bite of the day… until we had dessert.

Despite being stuffed silly, it was my friend’s birthday, so dessert was a non-negotiable. Along with two espresso martinis, we ordered a coffee-infused tres leches, with the natural bitterness from the coffee complimenting the generally cloying dessert. But, the dish I will come back for time and time again was the lucuma ice cream with rainbow fig cookies. The ice cream is made from the lucuma fruit, which is dry on its own and therefore often offered in a powdered or juiced form. It has strong notes of caramel, sweet potato, and even avocado. It almost reminded me of a papaya-avocado hybrid, but in ice cream form. The dense ice cream with the chewiness of the caramelized fig cookies and crunchy colorful sprinkles made for one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long while. It also further proved that Jora’s exceptionally beautiful plates of food have flavors to match.

An espresso martini and coffee tres leches at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
An espresso martini and coffee tres leches at Jora, a Peruvian restaurant located in Long Island City, Queens. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

  • Address: 47-46 11th St, Queens, NY 11101
  • Phone: (718) 392-2033
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 12 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Sunday 12 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
  • Prices: Ceviches/Causas $16-$26; Piqueos $5-$21; Mains $24-$32; Sides $6-$9; Sweets $5-$10
  • Takeout and delivery available; no reservations.

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