Chef Jose Carles is on a journey to re-define Panamanian cuisine which is the result of the influence of many
cultures and even incorporate pre-Columbian ingredients. Although there are some regions with a more defined culinary identity like the coastal areas or the central provinces, there are still missing links as per the overall concept of the cuisine that defines the country. “That is why we call it new Panamanian cuisine, it is our vision of it, the way we work with what already exists, some ingredients that are not commonly used and we create our own cuisine here at Donde Jose. We have created a sampling menu because we feel that is very difficult to understand a cuisine by going to a restaurant and ordering an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert, you end up missing many things on the menu. We divided the current menu in 2 sections, the first section we call “mata hambres” hunger killers and it consists of 4 tiny dishes served fast one after the other, then the second section which is slower and more relaxed, we call “el pebre” colloquial for meal, where we serve 5 larger dishes including dessert.”
We started the sampling menu with “la ñapa” the freebee, corn fritters with a tomato stew smoked with nance firewood. Very flavorful.
We were served a purple yam crisp topped with a passion fruit and banana ketchup, chicken liver parfait, capuchina petals and citronella.
Later we got to sample for the first time “saus” a pork feet ceviche served with mashed Chiriqui beans and sweet, sour pickles and micro radish.
The “tamal bochinchoso” or gossip monger tamale. Called gossip monger because somewhere in the tamale mix, there’s cow tongue, served with sweet and sour raisins, chicken rind, pickled carrots, celery and micro beets. This makes quite a delightful treat.
Chef Jose’s interpretation of a mango salad, preserved mango with a touch of spice served with cured and cold
smoked tilapia, crispy rice and cilantro sprouts, very delicate.
The king of the night was the rice with eggs, sticky rice cooked in beer, pickled onions, a cornish egg, rice ashes and a sauce made out of goat milk cream and coriander seeds.
The fried sawfish Chorrillo style (Chorrillo is a popular neighborhood famous for their fried fish), served with a sour cream made out of sautéed aromatic vegetables and cumin. Crispy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside.
The last of the savory dishes was a beef tenderloin cooked to perfection, served with oregano preserves, oatmeal wine, vanilla, topped with breadfruit shavings, served over the house sweet mustard and accompanied by “hojaldras” fried dough.
The night ended with decadent liquid custard covered chocolate bread pudding and served with a grapefruit gel.
Hours: Wed – Sat from 7:30 p.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Location: Avenue A and Central Avenue, Casco Antiguo