Sunday Dinner at Inkas (SF)
Here's the short version:
We had ceviche (pescado and mariscos), fried yucca, pollo alla braza
with aji panca sauce, anticuchon, aji de gallina, parihuela soup,
seco, chaufa de camarones, and extra fries. Plus picarones, Lucuma ice
cream, and alfajores. Total was $200+ tip including tax and $8 corkage.
I'll ask my 8 fellow diners of Peruvian fare to fill in the details, likes and dislikes.
3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
I'll have to post again when I have time, but wanted to mention that we also had fried plantains and empanadas. Windy said they're good with frying, and she's right.
here's a link to some pictures i took to remind everyone of what we ate:
my favorites were the pescado ceviche, pollo a la brasa, fried plantains, anticuchos with the yellow chile sauce (thanks, melanie, for that suggested pairing!), fries, lucuma ice cream, and alfajores.
i thought the space was nice (hadn't been when it was previously rock soup) and the wait staff was helpful and accommodating to our large group.
one thing noted was that there was no real timing to when dishes came out. although the ceviches were "appetizers", they came after the seco and maybe a few other dishes, too. then, everything just arrived at the table all at once. however, everything was very tasty and got eaten up pretty quickly anyway.
First time here for me and I'd definately go back. The kitchen did a great job with all of the fried foods - perfectly crispy and not greasy at all. Very friendly service, family-run spot. We also had an order of the empanadas (beef and egg) but they weren't a favorite as we had leftovers on that one (but they were fried nicely!)
When Windy ordered she told the waiter that the order of the dishes didn't matter so that's why they came a bit haphazard.
Was the pollo alla braza the whole chicken - I'd go back for just that. Well that plus that bright yellow aji sauce they served with the bread.
A few comments were made that this was some of the spiciest Peruvian food we'd had in the bay area - that good kind of spicy that makes you want to keep eating and eating and eating.
I am glad it appears you guys liked the place. IMO, for food and friendly family service Inka's is one of the most underrated restaurants in SF. Unfortunately the place is rarely even half-full at lunch time.
And that yellow pepper sauce...Wow, I always have to ask for a container to go after each visit!
I believe Windy was the only one in our party who had been to Inkas previously, and I think we all enjoyed much of the food. I didn't try the beef dishes, so my opinions don't reflect those.
The yucca, plantains, and french fries showed a deft hand, and remained surprisingly good even as they cooled. I really enjoyed the ceviche mixto (white fish, squid, shrimp, and mussels) and the aji de gallina, with a suce using the same aji amarillo chiles that flavor the sauce that comes with bread. This was my first taste of lucuma ice cream (lucuma is a Peruvian fruit), which I liked, and of chicha morada, the cinnamony purple corn punch, which was too sweet for me.
The parihuela didn't impress any of us, I don't think; it seemed quite heavy on cornstarch, which made the texture a bit goopy.
I thought it was a nice, well-prepared homestyle meal. As others have mentioned, I was surprised to find the warm spiciness, as it's been absent from my other forays into Peruvian food. I actually wanted to eat the aji de gallina and not just taste it. My favorite was the ceviche pescado, and the version of shrimp fried rice here is better than most Chinese-American places, made with whole shrimp. The lacuma ice cream was better here than at La Mar Cebicheria.
Here's a photo of two of our wines,
We started with the 2007 Zardetto Prosecco, which was starting to show its age with a faint nuttiness, but not unpleasantly. Then the 1999 Schloss Saarstein Serriger Schloss Saarstein Riesling Spätlese and 1997 Sorbiano Rosso delle Miniere Montescudaio Rosso. The Spatlese was starting to develop some gold in the hue and honeyed petrol aromas, and seemed a bit advanced to me, which has been the case with other 99s I've opened recently. But it was still a very good example of type.
The Tuscan red was a gift to us from Gary Cheong in NYC. He sent me two bottles about 8 years ago, one to be opened at a SF chowdown. We did enjoy it at the time, but it was much too young and quite astringent. I held this one back in my cellar thinking that Gary might visit us again and would enjoy drinking it at maturity. Instead, the occasion of Caitlin McGrath, former NYer, at the table and one who remembers Gary's days on the chowboards was reason enough to pop the cork. And, it was absolutely at peak, soft as taffeta and so beautifully fragrant from the malvasia and cabernet franc blended with sangiovese, and proof of this great vintage in Tuscany.
Our waiter was quite interested in our wines. As we were leaving, he asked me about the Sorbiano and where I purchased it, as he knew the wine and has not been able to find it. I've just checked winesearcher, and there don't seem to be any Sorbiano wines of any type in the database in the US.