Latin American food does something to me. Not only do Peruvian, Brazilian and Argentine foods remind me of happier times (like when I first tried Argentine black pudding), but they stick in my memory as (surprising) favourites. And a favourite is exactly how I feel about ceviche (raw fish 'cooked' in citrus juice), but for many, it has only just come on the British map, so trying it with friends is always an experience for the uninitiated.
Argentine steaks are some of the best in the world, not least because Argentine chefs know how to cook the tastiest cuts of meat, or because Peruvian chefs simply know when it comes to flavouring fish. All these beliefs I had remain true, but then I dined at Tostado, the only Ecuadorian ceviche-bar-cafe in Soho.
It is small, but I love intimate. The manager shared that Tostado typically fills up on Thursday and Friday evenings and can fit 100 people inside, with a few spilling out on to St Anne's court, and taking advantage of the outdoor seating.
Outdoor seating with space for curious diners"wrap="0
The closest competitors are in Elephant and Castle and Holloway, which are far enough for me not to consider them competition, not least in the terms of food or the level of service we received.
I didn't catch our waitress's name, but she was funny, candid and very sweet. She also shared a few tips about how to eat the food, what to pair it with, and chatted with us about typical Ecuadorian food compared to her native Colombia.
Chicken filled pork parcel
Comparatively, it is wonderful, and the flavours slightly more dense than Peruvian, or at least what I've tried.
My seafood ceviche (mixto ceviche) was fresh, zingy and slightly sweet. I cannot stand prawns and never eat them. Tostado has turned that on its head and I practically wolfed down the few prawns in my ceviche. There were thick chunks of salmon along with fresh sea bream. God it was good.
I also enjoyed the quinoa apple salad, which honestly wasn't remarkable. The humitas lonjanas, however, was bloody fantastic. All three of us, kept digging in and scooping up chunks of delicious cheese-filled mashed corn yumminess. These baby corn wraps are moreish, dense and satisfying. They were the perfect carb-accompaniment for the light protein-rich ceviche.