Peruvian food is a rarity in Silicon Valley. There is certainly an audience for it, though, as people here tend to embrace Latin American flavors. Newly opened Sipan Peruvian Restaurant and Bar in Saratoga aims to satisfy with their traditional dishes and lively music.

On the day of our visit, Big Basin Way was bustling with activity from the Saratoga Classic Car Show. This energy continued into the establishment. With the dim lighting and lively sounds, the place felt more like a bar than a restaurant. For those who enjoy Pisco Sours, Sipan offers a variety of Pisco-based cocktails using spirits from Peru.

We were immediately seated for lunch, and the menu was easy to understand despite all the items having a Peruvian name. The Lomo Saltado ($24) is a traditional beef stir fry with French fries and an Asian-influenced sauce. It is meant to be a quick and comforting dinner to please even finicky kids. The beef was overcooked but the sweet red onions gave it a nice touch. It was overall a solid dish, even if it didn’t taste as flavorful as it sounded.

With speedy service, we received the appetizer and second entrée at the same time. The Paella de Mariscos ($26) was possibly one of the best I’ve had. Only a made-up word like tomatoey with a hint of spice could describe the sauce. It had large kernels of corn that looked like hominy but were actually choclo, a Peruvian corn. The octopus was soft and tender, proving that the chef really knows how to handle difficult seafood. The other usual suspects like mussels, shrimps and calamari were present, and I particularly enjoyed the pickled onion and green sauce drizzled on top.

While the New Zealand green mussels and cassava fries in the Mussels Moche ($16) were both good, the true star was the mildly smoked sausage. The chunks were smokier than expected, but it was much appreciated. After finishing the mussels, we dipped the fries into the buttery white wine sauce, which had soft pieces of stewed leeks.

Service was wonderful and the paella was out of this world, but portion sizes were small for the price. Sipan Peruvian is worth a visit if close to the area, but don’t come too hungry. Do, however, order the outstanding paella.

Sipan Peruvian Restaurant and Bar 
14486 Big Basin Way, Saratoga.