inca's peruvian cuisine
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Inca's Peruvian Cuisine
June, 2012, Page 159
Photos by David Moore
The saucy South American fare at this Scottsdale eatery is a real hot potato.
Once you get past exotic-sounding menu items like papa a la huancaina, you’ll find that Peruvian food is, at its heart, meat-and-potatoes fare. The potato was first domesticated in Peru, so the Peruvians have had plenty of time to cultivate thousands of varieties and invent dozens of delectable ways to spiff up the humble tuber. Starches of all kinds take center stage on Peruvian plates, including, surprisingly, pasta. As in the U.S., a melting pot of people have settled in the South American country – including the Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese – and all of these culinary powerhouses are reflected in the cuisine.
Though it doesn’t rank with some of the better restaurants I visited in Peru itself, Inca’s – which opened a Scottsdale location last November, two years after launching the original Tucson locale – is still a fine choice for sampling this far-flung yet accessible fare. The restaurant is open, modern and lively, with gold hues on the walls, bright red striped Peruvian textiles on the tables, a welcoming bar, and images of Machu Picchu flashing across a video screen.
You’ll detect an Italian accent in the tallarin saltado ($14 for chicken; $15 for beef or shrimp; $16 for a mix) – expertly grilled medium-rare Angus beef strips in a fragrant marinade with chunks of tomato and red onion heaped atop silky strips of linguini. Lomo saltado ($17) is basically the same dish over potatoes with rice, and is just as good.
I was smitten with the spicy papa rellena ($9.50), a potato stuffed with seasoned ground beef, peppers and onions. I also loved the whipped potato in the causa rellena ($10), though the shrimp on top was smothered with mayo. However, I was let down by bland papa a la huancaina ($8), a dish of cold boiled potatoes in aji amarillo cheese sauce. Aji amarillo and aji rocoto peppers are mainstays in Peruvian cuisine, but the aji amarillo in this dish and the aji de gallina – pulled chicken in sauce ($12.50) – didn’t have the depth of flavor I’ve had elsewhere. Ceviche mixto ($17) – different from Mexican ceviche, with large hunks of fish and seafood marinated in citrus and onion – also could have been better.
Service can be frustrating and dishes are timed terribly, so temper your expectations. The good news: They shake up one of the best Pisco Sours I’ve had anywhere (upgrade to the $12 Portón Pisco), so have a drink and try to roll with it.
Photos - From left:
• inside Inca’s
Inca’s Peruvian Cuisine
: 7325 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale
: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
: Tallarin saltado linguini ($14 for chicken; $15 for beef or shrimp; $16 for a mix), lomo saltado ($17), papa rellena ($9.50), causa rellena with shrimp ($10), Pisco Sour ($12)
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