At first encounter, Raymi can be a little complicated. The Flatiron District restaurant serves upscale Peruvian food, but it's also fused with Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese influences. One bar offers ceviche and the other offers piscos, the Peruvian national drink, in flavors ranging from purple corn to coffee cinnamon. High ceilings make the 150-seat dining area seem larger than it really is, and somewhere behind most of the tables, a band plays rhythmic music.
It’s not an intimate space, but the food itself is prepared with attention and an eye for detail. Raymi’s dinner menu, revamped in time for summer, is composed mostly of small plates and a few slightly larger selections. A meal there is best shared, and not only because of the tapas-style presentation—once the food comes, you’ll probably want a bite of everything.
After contemplating the thirty different flavors of piscos (or other drinks, but the piscos are too fun to pass up), diners order from a menu divided into appetizer-sized “Bites,” “Ceviches & Tiraditos,” vegetables, traditional and modern dishes, and table-sized options that include a Whole Suckling Pig.
The Chicharron Sliders are bite-sized circles of toasted bread sandwiching pieces of pork shoulder, with a spicy mayonnaise spread that adds a little kick. It's a small but satisfying starter, packing a surprising amount of richness into a small package.
Raymi specializes in ceviche, and it isn't difficult to understand why. Salmon Ceviche comes in a small mound of fresh fish sitting in a tart marinade. A perfect spoonful is an interplay of textures and flavors: the smooth fish, bright marinade, salty crushed peanuts, and crispy won ton. The Ceviche & Tiradito menu also has corvina, tuna, mixto, fluke, and snapper—and, for the indecisive, a tasting menu of four of the options.
On the traditional end of the menu, Arroz Con Pato is a simple, hearty dish. A tender duck leg is served over jasmine rice studded with peas, peppers, and other vegetables, and garnished with thin slivers of raw onion. Much of the heaviness of the dish comes from the rice—a forkful of it alone is so moist and rich that it seems to have soaked in duck fat. The Octopus, one of the modern dishes, is lighter. Thick pieces of tentacle, firm but not rubbery, come arranged on a long plate with coin-sized slices of sweet potato. The Sweet Peruvian Corn Cake topped with mushrooms is also very good, but small for the price.
The standouts of the meal, in close competition with the ceviche and the duck, are the desserts. A relatively simple dessert menu contains two honey-based dishes that are worth a trip to Raymi on their own: the Peruvian Crispy Donuts and Chancaca Honey Ice Cream Cones. The donuts are homemade, with squash and sweet potato in the batter. Thin and golden-brown, their crisp fried exteriors give way to a doughy center. The warm donuts rest in a pool of delicious heavily-spiced honey sauce with anise.
The miniature ice cream cones are another memorable dessert. Three of them arrive propped up on a little stand, filled with homemade honey ice cream that has to be eaten quickly before it melts. Extra treats are hidden inside the cone (spoiler: anise cookie and chocolate syrup). In presentation and taste, it's a lovely ending to a lovely meal.
For more about the Peruvian fusion featured at Raymi, check out their website.
Raymi is located at 43 West 24th Street