Di Santis - Mostly Japanese Food, Really Good Desserts
by C, K and F
(Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia)
Di Santis is a café/lounge/sushi and Japanese food in Santa Cruz, Bolivia near the 2nd ring and the Hotel Cortez. They serve different types of sushi in little boats plus other Japanese food. The restaurant itself is quite nice, clean and orderly with a minimalist but comfortable interior in browns and oranges. Some of the tables have individual chairs and others are sofa-style.
We took issue with the music which, for the most part, consisted of rather loud Latin pop and cumbias (which we'd expect to hear in a cheap chichería, not in an elegant restaurant) but it was tolerable. It just felt weird and out of place.
The meal begins with a tall martini glass set before you which is filled with popcorn and tortilla chips (?) to munch on. Strange, but nice at the same time. And a pretty presentation.
We tried the BOTE 2, a 15-piece variety of sushi which was quite good (5 good-tasting California rolls, 3 gancko which are rice with octopus that had no flavor, and 5 other rolls similar to California rolls but rolled in a strange bright fuschia something rather than sesame seeds).
We also ordered a Bento Box called UME which consisted of really good cooked rice (mixed with green onion, carrots, egg), 3 deep-fried prawns, 3 baked pork empanadas, and a delicious salad of greens and baby octopus (really, like about 10 of them), and an absolutely delicious sweetened oyster sauce (the latter got numerous oohs, aaahs, mmmms, and OMG-this-is-amazing looks).
In addition we ordered the maracuya sauce which was also incredibly delicious, though it was the first time we had tried something like that with sushi.
Big tall glasses of ice cold lemonade and fresh squeezed orange juice accompanied what was a pretty hefty meal for 3 (2 adults and 1 child).
Dessert. What can I say, Di Santi has some delicious sounding desserts like lemon pie, mocha cake, and a 6-layer chocolate cake with chocolate and dulce-de-leche frosting which was scrumptious! Most notable, however, is the fact that they serve fried ice cream! We ordered a dessert consisting of 2 servings of coconut ice cream drizzled with strawberry sauce, accompanied by 2 large coconut deep-fried bananas which were heavenly!!!
Unfortunately, only 2 of the 6 desserts listed on the menu were available and this is a shame because Di Santi may indeed have some of the most unique desserts we've seen to date in Santa Cruz! There is, for example, no other restaurant that we know of that serves fried ice cream. They most certainly are missing out on a great opportunity to draw in a crowd with that and their deep fried coconut banana dessert!
We feel Di Santi also does itself a great disservice by not having a take-home menu or a website. Their menu includes many rather unique foods and desserts and they are really missing out on a chance for publicity by not promoting themselves better.
It was really aggravating that we didn't have a camera with us. We'd have given their amazing desserts some great (as in much-needed) publicity. A restaurant this expensive should certainly be able to afford a web page. They do, however, have a Facebook page:
The wait staff were kind and courteous and waited on us very willingly. However, the waiter had very little knowledge of the menu items. We think he may have been new. He did his best when asked what certain items were or contained but had to leave the table several times to get the information. That didn't leave the best impression. Restaurant owners should really train their wait staff before they put them to work at tables. A waiter who knows the food can recommend the food and restaurants would probably make a lot more money if they did.
We also didn't like that the restaurant automatically added in a 10% gratuity (tip). Many restaurants in Bolivia do this. It must be because Bolivians are generally very bad tippers (leaving just a few coins seems to be the norm, often even when the bill is in the hundreds). Still, a tip is supposed to be optional, not automatic.
Di Santi is expensive. Too expensive, we thought. The service was good and the food was, for the most part really good, but it was still way above the cost of restaurants that serve similar food that is just as delightful. Total for 2 adults, one child Bs. 300.85 (about $44 dollars).
Would we return? Probably. For the unique desserts. They were worth it!
Calle Libertad No. 987
(The street that runs along the side of the Hotel Cortez)