Interview: Chef Xerxes Bodhanwala on authentic Peruvian food in Perth

Perth’s dining scene is full of surprises, especially when it comes to the city’s forever-booming scene of premium hotels popping up between all that increasingly present street art, old school nightclubs and refined cocktail bars. One such surprise is UMA Restaurant at Pan Pacific Perth. It’s Peruvian food making use of local produce and sustainably sourced seafood, highlighting a cuisine not often associated with the most isolated city in the world.

To learn more about it, we caught up with the restaurant’s Head Chef Xerxes Bodhanwala who gives us a bit more insight into what to expect when heading along to UMA. Check the full transcript below.

People don’t usually think of Peruvian food when they think of Perth. For the
uninitiated, what defines Peruvian food particularly that served at UMA?

Peruvian food is fresh and full of flavour, has 3 distinct regions (coastal, mountains and the Amazon) that define the style of food as well as having Chinese, Japanese, African and Spanish influences. At Uma restaurant we have taken traditional dishes and given them a modern spin using locally sourced meat, seafood, vegetables and fruit that really highlights both the dishes as well as the incredible produce that is available in Western Australia. We try very hard to highlight and encourage guests to enjoy our ceviche’s, which are the ‘national’ dish of Peru.

What is Perth’s produce bringing to the table and how you are interpreting Peruvian food through Australian produce?

With the exception of the Peruvian chillies, the ingredients are all locally sourced from West Australian producers. The kitchen team have taken traditional cooking techniques and dishes and really given them a modern spin. Still focusing on the beautiful flavour profiles of the regions but increasing the accessibility of guests that may not be familiar with the dishes, flavours or ingredients.

If someone was to only try three dishes from your menu, which ones would be most necessary to really showcase what you’ve gone for, and why?

Ceviche Peruano, which is a very traditional example of ceviche that has been given an update, it is a stunning combination of Shark Bay Goldband Snapper, ‘Leche de Tigre’, charred sweet corn and caramelised sweet potato.

Our Anticucho de Ternera are an absolute crowd favourite, traditionally made with beef hearts we use Treeton Farm beef rump cap, it is served with an addictive smoky potato puree and is perfect with a Pisco Sour.

The Pisco caramel pudding is also one that should really go on the list, with drunken currants and preserved lemon rinds, it is familiar (it will remind you of bread and butter pudding) but texturally really interesting, it is also delicious! The menu does make it hard to choose just 3 items, with a new Spring menu coming out in September with some really incredible dishes to look forward to eating.

What’s the most divisive thing on the menu?

Probably the alpaca, it is an Australian product and a meat that chefs love to cook with but it is not for everyone. It is a very lean meat, with lots of flavour, really good for you and lends itself to all sorts of cooking techniques. The Uma team currently uses their Alpaca in croquetas with sticky, indulgent ribs coming soon…

How often will you be changing the menu or rotating dishes?

Seasonality is one of the core values of Uma Restaurant, which means the menu does change regularly depending on produce supply as well as the temperate seasons.

The kitchen team offers fortnightly specials where new and interesting dishes and ingredients are showcased to ascertain guest reaction and viability.

What’s your overall opinion on the dining scene in Perth? Are there any changes, trends or evolutions you’d like to see?

The Perth dining scene is a dynamic, exciting industry to be a part of. New venues are constantly popping up with new and interesting cuisines being offered. The variety of restaurants is something that we would like to see continue to grow, in order to give guests the opportunity to increase their palates, enjoy new ingredients and flavours.

UMA Restaurant is located in the Pan Pacific Perth at 207 Adelaide Terrace, Perth WA 6000. For more information head to their website at panpacific.com

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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