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El Aguajal, Dalston, London

limster Aug 18, 2009 02:50 PM

A Peruvian place that has been on my to-do list for a year or so. In the meantime, they shifted from Balls Pond Road to Kingsland Road.

Earth spicing on the meaty, anticuchos, grilled beef hearts with a hint of livery flavour. Very savoury, going down well with the side of papa a la huancaina, boiled potatoes (Peru is after all, the home of the potato) coated with a yellow cream sauce made with aji amarillo, one of the many peppers of Peruvian cooking. The sauce was fair good, but could have more more tangy and smoky, perhaps a deeper dose of the chilli peppers to spice it up.

Juanes de gallina, a slightly stringy but still modestly moist piece of chicken breast wrapped in rice flavoured with another Peruvian pepper and tumeric and mixed with eggs, cooked in what looked like banana leaves. A complex tangy flavour to the rice, pairing well with the chicken, and even better with generous spoonfuls of a peruvian chilli sauce. The side of marinated onions is sharp, acidic, and lightly sweet, an intense but balanced flavour that suggests that their ceviche (which likely use a similar marinade) is going to be worth trying. Finally a nice medium sweet plantain on the side.

Pretty good chica morada, a purple corn drink.

At 25% discount from Mon to Thurs, not a bad deal.

They say on weekends they'll have pollo a la brasa (Peruvian rotisserie chicken), and desserts like alfajores (shortbread sandwiching dulce de leche). Was interesting to sample the juanes, which they label under Peruvian Amazon food, it was new to me. Will have to try one of their tacacho dishes (mashed green plantains). But I'll also be back for the usual Peruvian stuff like lomo saltado. Food I had was tasty and definitely worth investigating further, might end up being better than Tito's, which is the other Peruvian place that I've been to in London.

http://www.elaguajal.co.uk/

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    foreignmuck RE: limster Aug 18, 2009 03:15 PM

    Interesting to hear.
    I've been here many times but more as an illicit, late night party venue. Never to eat...

    1. limster RE: limster Sep 2, 2009 03:24 PM

      Those marinated onions are great on the papa rellena (mashed potato stuffed with little bits of meat, olives and boiled egg, battered and deep fried) -- their sharpness and acidity are vivid and delicious, and bites of the fried stuffed potato doesn't seem to have any greasy trace. The potato itself is fine -- I think the stuffing is a bit meagre, but it seems properly fried, although it wasn't blazing hot (temperature wise), more of a polite heat. Perhaps cooled by the limey onions?

      Lomo saltado is a Peruvian staple. Here it's beef strips with onion, a few small wedges of tomato, a good amount of soy sauce and probably vinegar, hints of ginger (I think), a Peruvian interpretation of a Chinese stir fry, served with rice and very good (and very hot) chips that had a thick crispy surface and a slightly puffy and soft inside (although many might prefer slghtly softer chips as a more homey combination the rest of the plate). Topped with a nice fried egg, the sunny yolk just set. Best part is when the chips soak up some of the sauce. I would have liked a serious bit of coriander/cilantro or parsley, which seemed lacking here. I think overall I prefer the stir-fry at Tito's for the balance from a dash of herby flavour (it's been a while though).

      I think this place might be a touch cheaper than Tito's with their 25% discount from Mon-Thur.

      2 Replies
      1. re: limster
        howler RE: limster Sep 2, 2009 04:30 PM

        papa rellena are remarkably similar to parsi keema cutlets - one of these days i'm going to have to have a chowdown at my place so you all can see what i mean.

        1. re: howler
          limster RE: howler Sep 2, 2009 05:40 PM

          Awesome, sounds great -- the closet thing I've had to that here is probably the keema kofte at Hot Stuff, but I don't think there was potato in it. The other thing that comes to mind is begadil, an Indonesian/Malay potato cutlet with little bits of mutton, but I haven't had that here in London.

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