El Pollo Inka is a mini chain of Peruvian restaurants, located throughout Los Angeles County. I stopped by at the Gardena location with my friends Roger and Karen on Fat Tuesday, and the place was busy.
Peruvian food takes from their Incan roots and incorporates food from the people who immigrated from Europe and Asia, which includes rice, wheat, and meats. A popular Peruvian dish called Tallerin Saltado is a fusion between Chinese and Peruvian cuisine. Saltado means “stir fried” and tallerin is a combination of meat mixed with chunks of fried onions and tomatoes, marinated with vinegar and soy sauce. For this dish, the Tallerin Saltado is served over spaghetti noodles. If we had gone with Lomo Saltado, then it would have been the same ingredients, but over fries.
Roger chose the Beef Tallerin Saltado, while Karen chose the Chicken version. I went with their rotisserie chicken that I saw spinning on the spit in the entrance. Our server came back with a basket of bread and bowls of Aguadito de Pollo, which is a Peruvian Chicken and Cilantro Soup along with a bottle of the Peruvian Aji sauce, better known as the “Green Sauce” It’s a simple sauce made with lettuce, cilantro, jalapenos and mayonnaise. The sauce has a kick to it (from the jalapenos) and people seem to love pouring it over everything.
Our food came out shortly after, and the noodles did not disappoint. If there’s anything more comforting to an Asian person, its noodles, and the Tallerin Saltado hit the spot. The chicken used here came from the rotisserie chicken, and it was flavorful and moist. The noodles were not overcooked, yet not al dente either.
My rotisserie chicken was a bit of a disappointment, as the menu said it came with “garlic” rice. I thought it was more like the vietnamese style with chunks of toasted or roasted garlic cooked with the rice. No, it was basically bland, white rice, and the salad was a basic salad with vinaigrette dressing. While still a good deal for $8.50, it was such a let down compared to the noodles.
This place is definitely a comfort food establishment. I probably won’t get the chicken plate next time, but I will try something else, or get another order of the noodles. Thumbs up.