Octopuses are bastards, moodily swaggering around the sea bed avoiding others of their species.
And, when they are confined together, it ends up in eight-legged fisticuffs with the victor eating its opponent in the style of the modern Conservative Party.
Thus – unlike the trendy TV scientist Brian Cox who considers octopuses too intelligent to devour – I have no compunction about eating these psychopathic oceanic hooligans.
Especially when they taste as good as those served at Chakana, the newly-opened Peruvian restaurant in Moseley.
The mollusc came tiraditos style – that is, raw and marinaded in the spicy citrus sauce, tiger’s milk.
This was a beautifully plated dish.
The octopus itself was tender and sweetly flavoursome.
Thin black crackers added crunch, the tiger’s milk added carefully-controlled spice and zing.
Blobs of chimichurri gave verdancy and herbal notes.
Opposite, my wife ate another gorgeously-presented dish – a potato salad called a causas.
This combination of red spuds, king crab and a mayonnaise made with the Latin American spice achiote was as enthusiastically eaten as my starter.
The beef pachamanca to which I progressed as a main course was another winner.
Fillet had, I think, been cooked sous vide then darkened on the plancha so that it was properly rare.
A rough mash of golden corn was a deft balance of sweet and spice and was a humble highlight not only of this meal but of any I’ve eaten this year.
Gossamer-thin sheets of deep green were draped over parts of the dish and were made from the pungent, almost seaweed flavoured Andean herb huacatay.
The carbs were provided by black quinoa, imparting nutty notes.
Lynn, meanwhile, ate suckling pig served with the rice dish majadito, yucca root and that tiny but fierce Peruvian chilli, the charapita.
It was a dish she greatly enjoyed but which she thought lacked a sauce.
Portions were generous and the food was rich, so neither of us had appetite for dessert despite a menu with some very interesting dishes.
Unfairly, perhaps, we visited on Chakana’s first public night when front-of-house and kitchen staff were no doubt still finding their feet.
But, despite slight delays in dishes arriving, we left applauding a great addition to Birmingham’s dining scene.
Peruvian food, with its Latin American, Spanish and Oriental influences and relatively unknown ingredients, is fascinating, vibrant and thrilling.
Here it cooked and served with precision and flair.
Service was informed, charming and attentive. It’s a smart but informal space.
This place, the latest venture by the Michelin-starred chef Robert Ortiz, may well turn out to be 2019’s most exciting restaurant opening in the city.
Need to know
We paid £90 for two courses each plus a cocktail and good wines.
Chakana also offers bar snacks.
There are plenty of veggie options.
There’s a great cocktail list.
The wine list, too, is interesting.
Chakana has a private dining room (pictured below).
140 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8HS. 0121 448 9880.