Peri Peri (San Diego)


We were invited to a preview dinner of Peri Peri in Torrey Highlands last Wednesday. The restaurant is set to open tomorrow (Saturday, March 1st). Here’s how it all went down!


The restaurant itself is fairly spacious, with 3,000 square feet of indoor as well as outdoor seating in the patio. Having grown up in South Africa, owner William Sussman is hoping to bring the unique South African flavors to San Diego. According to William, peri peri was created many years ago in the 15th or 16th century when Portuguese explorers were introduced to the African bird’s eye chili from the local indigenous Africans of Mozambique. The Portuguese quickly added it to their cooking and spicy peri peri sauce was born. Currently peri peri is becoming ever more popular as people become more familiar with it.


All dinner menu items are less than $20 with the exception of the Hot Rock Filet Mignon. The meal was served family style with various dishes coming out to tables throughout the night.


Our first course was the Prawn Bisque. The thickness of the bisque was just right being on the thicker side, which I prefer. There were pieces of prawns within the bisque and a few croutons on top to add a little texture. However, I thought the prawns were a little rubbery. Each spoonful left you with a good comfortable heat sensation. The bisque could have used a touch of salt for my taste.

The Lamb Shank with cous cous and tomato based sauce was not on the menu. Our server mentioned it was a special for the evening. The lamb was fall off the bone tender and juicy. The sauce didn’t have any spice to it, nor was it overly powerful on its own. But it did mellow out the lamb. If you don’t like the inherent bold flavor of lamb meat, adding more of the sauce would help balance it out. The dish was tasty but again, I’d prefer a dash of salt.

Next we finally get to meet the infamous Peri Peri Chicken. It came on a bed of rice with fries on the side. The peri peri sauce is pictured on the bottom right. The chicken was cooked perfectly, very moist and juicy. But the star of the show was the peri peri sauce. It gave the chicken another dimension and features a complex layer of flavors that comes off so smooth and so spicy, you get blindsided in a flash. It is as if a silent, spicy sniper sauce infiltrated your mouth, nose, and throat while playing puppet master for a few minutes as you sit still in the most vulnerable, serene, catatonic state possible. That doesn’t sound like the most pleasant description, but trust me, you’ll want to be held hostage just as we were. The immediate comparison that popped into my head was giardiniera. However, the peri peri was much more refined, clean, and complimentary. I have had my fair share of spicy foods, from ordering curries in Thai restaurants with a spice level of 10 to exploring tourist trap spicy sauce stores looking for the ones with the highest scoville ratings. The peri peri here somehow has the ability to exhibit a high level of spice without being uncomfortable or intolerable. I thoroughly enjoy the sensation of a spicy bite. The difficulty is finding one that allows you to enjoy each subsequent bite as much as the first. The peri peri here allows you to do just that.


How do you follow that up? Well, you can try with the next dish, Sosaties. Basically here we have a skewer with lamb marinated in a mild curry, with apricot and chutney sauce. There are also onions and again, rice and fries. Same meat, but very different dish than the lamb shank. The apricot component left a sweet sensation on the palette. What a nice followup after the Peri Peri Chicken. I’m not going to lie though, Michael saved the peri peri sauce and was dipping the lamb pieces in it! Yes, it was that good.   

Our final course consisted of three house made ice creams: vanilla, sea salt caramel, and curry. You may find this amusing but my favorite of the bunch was the sea salt caramel. Not because it had a lot of salt, but because it was the cleanest and smoothest of the three. Funny thing is I’d actually prefer a touch less salt in it. And yes I understand it is sea salt caramel flavored ice cream. The vanilla was nice and sweet while the curry was unmistakably curry. This was probably one of the best curry flavored ice creams I’ve had. As Michael and I were discussing after our first bite, “this is about as good as curry ice cream could be.” We finished it, but probably would order another flavor before curry.

We saw other dishes like the Hot Rock Filet Mignon and Seafood Corn Husks pass our table onto others. Man those looked and smelled great! Perhaps next time we’ll get to sample more of the menu. With so many interesting items to choose from, you’d need an army to be able to sample all of them in one go. Special thanks to Emily over at Bam for the invitation and William for giving us a tasting tour of Peri Peri.

Peri Peri
7845 Highland Village Place, Suite C101
San Diego, CA 92129

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About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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