Sure, we’ve said it like a million times, but we’ll say it again just in case you forgot: Latin food is our favorite. We can never get enough. So, when we had the chance to visit the recently opened Aji 10 in Norwalk and talk with Executive Chef David Soto, we jumped on it.
What’s cool about Aji 10 is their menu is not just your typical Latin food. Nope, Chef Soto’s fresh spin is called Nikkei, which is a popular fusion of Peruvian and Japanese food. The reviews of this new approach to Latin food in Fairfield County have been quite positive, so we had high expectations for our dinner. Let’s get into it . . .
The menu is set up with Antojitos (Appetizers) such as Chicharrones, Arepeas, Tortas, and Tacos; Tiraditos, Ceviches, and Sushi Latino; Soups and Salads; entrees like Lomo Saltado, Pabellon, Parrillada; sides; and dessert. As we decided what to order, our server Santos brought over a mild, light, and refreshing green salsa served with tortilla chips and flaky and crispy wonton chips. We surprisingly ended up eating more of the wonton chips than tortilla because they were so tasty with the salsas.
So, of course we started with one of our favorites: arepas. The corn cakes came out warm and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside–that perfect consistency you hope for. Inside the arepa was Carne Mechada, a delicate, rich stewed shredded beef full of flavor. Served on the side was a green sauce made of lime, cilantro, and avocado which brought a fun, bright, acidic kick. There was also a garlic aioli we could pour on top, but we didn’t like it so much with this particular arepa.
Up next was the Ostras Fritas, yes, fried oysters. So, look, we know what you’re thinking, fried oysters. They are on so many menus now, why bother? Yeah, we thought that at first, but we were interested because it’s served with an avocado salsa and an Aji Rocoto sauce. The oysters were amazingly soft and well cooked, with a light and fluffy fried batter so as not to take away from the delicate oyster. The fruity, citrusy kick from the salsa and the sauce was a fantastic contrast and reminded us of summer. We’d order that dish a hundred times.
The Tostada de Langosta were fun, bite-sized pieces of battered lobster that were coated with Peruvian aioli. The lobster was served on mango salsa and small fried tortillas. The mango added a nice, exotic fruitiness with the pepper adding a crunch which proved to go nicely with the excellently prepared lobster. Another great dish that somehow remained light, even though it was fried.
Continuing with our seafood theme (there are lots of meat dishes, we were just feelin’ seafood), we ordered the Ceviche de Pescado because we feel that ceviche is always a good indication of a Latin restaurant. The fresh tilapia was cut into bite sizes and served along with their Aji Rocoto sauce and yummy tiger milk, which is simply fresh lime juice and Peruvian spices, not actually from a tiger, he he). The fish was cut nicely and was delicate, while the sauce had a slight spice to it. This is served with yucca, sweet potato, and corn, so we’d take a bite of seafood with one of the starches . . . fun dish and a pretty good ceviche.
Then we switched things up with a sushi roll to see how this part of the menu was. The only problem was trying to figure out which one we’d get. Would it be the Mar y Tierra, Caribeno, Tico Rico, or Jalapeño sushi roll? Well, it was pretty easy deciding when our served suggested the Latin Roll special, which he told is was one of the most popular choices since they premiered it on Valentine’s Day. This roll came with crunchy onion on top, shrimp tempura, avocado, jalapeño inside, and spicy mayo and eel sauce on top. The onions added an exciting texture and flavor to the dish with a gentle spice coming through. The flavors were fresh, rich, and was heavier than we expected. We enjoyed it, but if you’re going for a lighter dish, this ain’t the one . . . especially if your other dishes were fried like ours were.
We also had some drinks when we were there . . . duh. Kristien had the Aji 10 Margarita which had a hint of cilantro and had a nice touch of spice from the jalapeño. It was a nicely balanced margarita that wasn’t too sour or sweet, but could have benefited from a stronger (or higher quality) tequila. Something was just not quite right about it, so she switched to the Papaya Mojito which was well balanced with mint and that exotic papaya flavor. Dan tried the Piscorinha (combo of a Pisco and Dan’s fave Caipirinha) which was mild and not overpowering like Caipirinhas can be. It was definitely refreshing with a nice lime taste in the forefront.
Finally, we were pretty sure we were done, but Chef Soto came out and was surprised we hadn’t ordered more. Seriously, chefs are sadistic and want to feed you like your Italian grandma. So, he suggested that we try the Parrillada Argentina, a platter of various meat cuts with some yucca fries on the side. First up, there was the Argentinian sausage which was cooked nicely and was bursting with spices and flavors. Also, there was the blood sausage which was very delicate . . . and that’s not easy to do because people tend to dry it out. We also had chicken that had a nice char taste and was plenty juicy. Our only disappointment was the pork chop, which had a nice grilled flavor, but was overcooked. But, where the pork chop failed us, the steak more than made up for it. It was served medium and was highlighted with a chimichurri style sauce. Oh, and those yucca fries? So crispy on the outside, and hot and smooshy on the inside. But, seriously, hot, so just be careful.
As we finished up, Santos (who was helpful, kind, knowledgeable, and energetic throughout the night) came by, checked in on us and let us know about the desserts. While they sounded good, we really couldn’t eat any more at all. Seriously, look at all that freakin’ food that we just ate. But, he mentioned how there was a possibility of having one more piece of the Passion Fruit Flan special left. Ok: GAME ON! We are oh so glad that we ordered it. The flan was silky smooth with a bright, exotic, floral, and refreshing bite coming from the passion fruit sauce. Not too sweet at all, either.
Aji 10 is a fun take on Latin food. The spot is nice, relaxing, and has plenty of room. It gives you a chance to sit, relax, catch up, and unwind from a long day. We’d give most of the food a solid “good” (not mind-blowing, but nothing was bad whatsoever either). All in, we’d return to try out some of the other sushi rolls and some of the other Latin dishes that we had to pass up the first time around, perhaps in favor of less fried dishes.
While we received this meal for free to review on our blog, we were not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are 100% truthful based on our tastebuds, preferences, and opinions, because that’s how OmNomCT rolls.
Address: 10 Wall Street
Phone: (203) 957-8585
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday from 12-10
Friday-Saturday from 12-11
Sunday from 12-9