Seafood lovers rejoice: The flavors at Ceviche Jax will make you feel like you’ve died and become a mermaid. As soon as you’re seated, Ceviche Jax’s friendly staff brings cancha corn, large kernels of puffed corn (think corn popped on the inside instead of the outside) with a tasty Huancaína sauce. Huancaína is a traditional Peruvian sauce that gets its signature color — bright yellow — from aji peppers (aka Peruvian hot peppers). The delicious, creamy sauce has a flavor profile that’s slightly tart; it nicely complemented every bite.
For an appetizer, we ordered the Tuna Causa ($6.99), a traditional stack that’s chilled with your choice of chicken, tuna or shrimp, topped with Florida avocado and mashed potato, with a generous pour of the Huancaína sauce, and garnished with slender white wedges of boiled egg. We ordered the tuna mild, it carries a subtle heat that lingers after each bite. The perfect Causa forkful bursts with a range of textures and flavors. The slight spice of the tuna, crunch of the veggies, and sweetness of the thin slices of avocado, combined with the starchiness of the potatoes, made every mouthful a masterful combination of flavors.
Our waitress suggested the Trio Atlantic Beach ($34.99), which features Arroz Con Marisco (seafood rice), ceviche (seafood cured in citrus juice), and jalea (fried seafood). It was an excellent idea, because it allowed us to try a wide variety. The portions were also surprisingly large enough to quiet the hunger pangs of two people.
Arroz Con Marisco was a delight; some of the best rice I’ve had in a long time. It was impeccably cooked, with a lemony finish. The plump shrimp and tender calamari that studded the rice were cooked with such precision that Mary Poppins’ measuring tape would find it “practically perfect in every way.” You can bet we fought over who got the last piece of calamari, and you know who won.
The star of the evening was the classic ceviche. This typically chilled Peruvian dish is not always executed properly in the States. Ceviche preparation hinges on the quality of the fresh seafood, which is marinated in lime juice and topped with cilantro and red onions. At Ceviche Jax, the shrimp are huge and juicy, and the fish is flakey and tender and the furthest thing from fishy.
That last of the trio, the fried fish, shrimp and calamari were also delicious; it’s just a shame that dish was up against the ceviche! After one bite of Ceviche Jax’s quality lime-cured shrimp, fish and calamari ceviche, you’ll be hooked. You might even wonder why anyone would fry their seafood!
The restaurant is an intimate spot with low lighting and small tables, but it’s capable of accommodating larger groups and families with small children, thanks in part to the thoughtful waitstaff. But beware: It’s closed on Mondays, so quell the ceviche crave till Tuesday.