In many restaurant preparations of pescado a lo macho, a popular Peruvian dish of fried fish and seafood stew, the “pescado” component is a boneless fillet, which then gets buried under so much sauce that you might not even recognize it as fish. Not so at El Mono, where a whole fried sea bass arrives at the table with eyes bulging and mouth slightly agape — the look of a fearsome prehistoric sea creature curled around its stash of clams and mussels. This is how you know that El Mono is a serious Peruvian restaurant. A vast menu includes above-average versions of classics such as lomo saltado and Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, but the seafood dishes are the real highlight: the aforementioned pescado a lo macho, as well as the chupe camarones, a creamy shrimp chowder. The house-made aji verde hot sauce tastes good with everything, pretty much.

— Luke Tsai

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