Thursday, July 12, 2012

Inka's - Irvine

I'm not Peruvian. I've not been to Machu Picchu. But I believe I have mastered the Peruvian dish called saltado. I can make it with my eyes closed.

Everyone who has any sort of interest in food or cooking has one thing they can say they make better than anyone else. Mine is saltado. In fact, my avatar, if you haven't noticed, is a picture of a saltado I made sometime in the earlier part of the last decade.

If you know saltado, you'll also know that it isn't technically Peruvian in the indigenous sense. The dish is actually part of a subclass of Andean-Chinese cuisine called chifa. In other words, saltado is to Peru as chop suey is to the US.

The best restaurant saltado that I've tasted here in the states (disingenuous statement alert; where else would I have tasted it?) remains El Pollo Inka's in Lawndale. My rendition pales. The one I ordered recently at Inka's in Irvine would place somewhere in between.

Though the steak could've been softer, the components Inka's uses are exactly what I'd put in my recipe: just wilted red onion, warmed to near liquefaction tomatoes, crisp fries, cilantro, and a magic wok alchemy of soy, cumin and other spices that make it impossible to not lick the plate clean.

But the best part of eating saltado at Inka's is that I can douse every forkful with their aji sauce, a muted green chili paste that I haven't yet mastered...and then follow the meal with lucuma ice cream, which is a Peruvian flavor made with an indigenous Andean fruit that I haven't been able to find anywhere except at restaurants like Inka's.

And then there's the comforting fact that the daughter of the owner is always a warm and doting host...though I admit the real draw is always because I don't have to clean the kitchen once I'm full and sated.

16277 Laguna Canyon Road,
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 753-1276

Wahoo's Fish Taco - Huntington Beach


At 9:36 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

El Pollo Inka is actually a semi-chain and the closest one (ya, by like a mile or two) is in Gardena.

A strip mall that also features one of my favourite sushi spots, Kenpachi Sushi.

But I agree with you, the best part about "peruvian" food is the green sauce!!

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets get a heavily detailed recipe for your saltado!

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous eaterdeltustin said...

Mario's in LA and La Mirada has very good saltado.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Odajennys said...

I can't wait to go to Peru, got a ticket for $230 rt and heading there Thanksgiving weekend. Gonna eat a guinea pig instead of turkey! ;P

At 7:34 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


That green sauce is the reason squirt bottles are made!


Ask and you shall receive!


Agreed! I love Mario's! They also do really good fried chicken nibbles.


You are a lucky woman! Tell us how it is!


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