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The Student News Site of Piscataway High School

The Chieftain

The Student News Site of Piscataway High School

The Chieftain

New Peruvian Restaurant Jarana Opens at American Dream Mall

Jarana lives up to its name by providing a festive and flavorful dining experience

While the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford NJ has been around for a few years now, the Jarana restaurant, which opened on April 1, 2023, is a fairly new addition.

Jarana is a Peruvian restaurant that has gotten the attention of many, since it is the first one to open. On their website, they describe themselves as, “a Peruvian party; colorful, joyful and full of life.” They are open Monday through Friday from 12:00 pm until 10:00pm, 11:00 am to 11:00 pm on Saturdays, and 11:00 am to 9:00 pm on Sundays.

The term “Jarana” is a Peruvian dialect that means “spontaneous street party” or “celebration”, which perfectly describes the feel of the restaurant’s decoration. As soon as you step foot into the restaurant, your attention is drawn to the beautiful basket lamps that hang from the ceiling. They are all very colorful and match perfectly with the mural that is painted on the walls.

I visited this restaurant on April 22, 2023, when it had only been open for two weeks. To make a reservation for my family, we were instructed to go onto their website and hit the reservations tab. From there, it was extremely easy to make the reservation, as the website gave us clear directions, asking the time and amount of people they would be serving. The reservation was made about a week in advance. When all eleven of us arrived at the restaurant, we had about a five minute wait until we were seated. We were sat on a long table that was half a booth, half chairs.

The menu consists of everything from causas, a cebiche bar, vegetarian options, Peruvian classics, chilcano, signatures, pisco sours, mock tails, and desserts. The restaurant understands that some of these words might not look familiar to their customers, so they have descriptions, in English, underneath the titles of the food. Along with this, they have a glossary with classic Peruvian ingredients or food with the specific definitions to describe them. The pricing varied from around fifteen dollars to thirty-six dollars, which I think is reasonable considering the amount of food you are served.

For my drink, I asked for the classic Peruvian soda, Inca Kola. The flavor can be described as sweet and fruity, some even saying that it reminds them of bubble gum. Its main ingredient is lemon verbena! For my entrée, I ordered the Chaufa Mostro, which is described as “Veggie fried rice, mushrooms, served with crispy fried potatoes, polleria sauce and huacatay cream”. Arroz chaufa is my favorite Peruvian dish, so I had a lot to compare this meal with.

When the plate arrived, it was very aesthetically set up. Everything that came with the dish was packed perfectly into a pan, making it different from the usual glass plate you would receive at a restaurant. The fried rice itself was full of flavor and delicious. The fries were clearly not regular french fries, as they were fluffy and tasted more natural than McDonald’s fries would. The chicken was not anything spectacular, though. It tasted a little more sweet than I think it should’ve and just threw me off a little. Overall, I would give the dish a 7/10, because the rice and fries were very enjoyable (as was the Inca Kola), but I think the chicken could’ve been a bit more appetizing!

Unfortunately, I did not order any dessert, but they do offer many choices such as Combinado Limeno, Alfajor Triple, and Torta De Chocolate.

As soon as my family entered the restaurant, the staff was extremely friendly. They were very organized and checked up on our table often. Another factor that stood out about this restaurant was the flexibility of the language. The staff spoke both English and Spanish, making it very easy for customers to communicate with them!

All in all, this restaurant was wonderfully decorated and beautifully captured Peruvian culture. They had many options for everyone to choose from, anything from chicken and seafood, to beef and vegetarian choices. Jarana will soon open a new location in Aventura, Florida, but we were lucky to get a view at the first one to open! After a long day of shopping around the American Dream mall, I definitely recommend stopping at Jarana for some delicious dinner.

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Danika Carranza, Editor in Chief

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  • K

    kyla tewarsonDec 7, 2023 at 11:46 am

    “The menu consists of everything from causas, a cebiche bar, vegetarian options, Peruvian classics, chilcano, signatures, pisco sours, mock tails, and desserts.” the restaurant looks really nice and the food sounds and looks amazing!