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Seeking "Peruvian" approved Peruvian spot

A bit of a challenge for the LA chowhounds that in sure can be overcome.

A friend of Peruvian descent recently moved to LA from SF and swears there's no decent Peruvian in LA. She's been to Mario's and complaints that the lomo saltado is greasy and the flavor doesn't cut the mustard. My palate is rather inexperienced when it comes to Peruvian, so I'm kind of stuck as the places I know are in line with Mario's

Peruvian connoisseurs, can you please recommend your top picks?

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Mario's Peruvian
15720 Imperial Hwy, La Mirada, CA 90638

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  1. You may want to search for previous threads about Puro Sabor in Van Nuys. It appears to be popular among CHers. Can't tell who is Peruvian, though.

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    Puro Sabor
    6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

    4 Replies
    1. re: selfportrait93

      Co-sign Puro Sabor.

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      Puro Sabor
      6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

      1. re: a213b

        Puro Sabor is in the superdelicious class - cerviche to die for.

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        Puro Sabor
        6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

      2. re: selfportrait93

        Puro Sabor is on my list also, along with Kotosh at Kamiyama, El Rocoto, and Mo Chica.

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        Kotosh at Kamiyama
        2408 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

        Puro Sabor
        6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

        El Rocoto Restaurant
        11433 South St, Cerritos, CA 90703

        1. re: selfportrait93

          Puro sabor is great overall but their lomo is not...stay way from that one dish.

        2. Mo-Chica is more than decent. The food I've had there is almost on par with that at the most highly regarded restaurants in Lima, though the menu is very limited and there is no atmosphere to speak of. They even do a decent job with presentation considering the food court setting. I wish they'd open up a true restaurant and expand the menu.

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          Mo-Chica
          3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

          1 Reply
          1. re: sushigirlie

            Ricardo Zarate actually has two new places in the works, one of which might be similar to Mo-Chica in terms of food but nicer in terms of decor:

            http://la.eater.com/archives/2010/11/...

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            Mo-Chica
            3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

          2. I'm no Peruvian but I second Mo-Chica! And better hurry before they move ..

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            Mo-Chica
            3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

            1. Hmmm, I have several Peruvian friends and they say the Peruvian food in LA is fantastic. They like Mario's just fine. To each his/her own, I guess.

              2 Replies
              1. re: granadafan

                I have a couple of friends from Peru as well, and they swear by El Rocoto and Kotosh. I guess it depends on where and what you grew up with that was familiar. El Rocoto is Peruvian with a Chinese influence, while Kotosh is Peruvian with Japanese influence. My Peruvian friends tell me they are "surprised how people in the US claim to be African-American, Mexican-American, Japanese-American and so on. In Peru, everyone is Peruvian no matter where their fathers came from..."

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  Agree with bulavinaka that it really depends on what your friend is looking for. My husband grew up in Peru and his personal favorite in L.A. is Mo Chica (especially the ceviche). But he cautions that this is a more modern take on Peruvian, so if your friend is looking for homestyle cooking this isn't it. Kotosh and El Rocoto are also good at what they do, but as bulavinaka mentioned, they have specific takes on Peruvian as well.

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                  El Rocoto Restaurant
                  11433 South St, Cerritos, CA 90703

              2. I like Mario's Peruvian and Mo-Chica.

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                Mario's Peruvian
                15720 Imperial Hwy, La Mirada, CA 90638

                Mo-Chica
                3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                1. Agree with Puro Sabor and Mo-Chica and throw in Balcones de Peru to boot.

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                  Puro Sabor
                  6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

                  Mo-Chica
                  3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sku

                    I third Mo Chica, having recently discovered it I've been to it around 4 times in the last month.

                  2. I prefer Puro Sabor to Mario's. I haven't tried any others. I live in Van Nuys on Victory Boulevard, so Puro Sabor is very convenient.

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                    Puro Sabor
                    6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Dogbite Williams

                      Hi Dogbite,
                      You might appreciate this since you live on Victory. Nazca Peruvian is owned by the Puro Sabor people. It's right around the corner from Puro. The mom runs Nazca and the daughter Johanna runs Puro. They're both great.

                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/nazca-peruvia...

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                      Puro Sabor
                      6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

                    2. I like El Rocoto in Gardena.

                      Also a new restaurant in North Long Beach, El Pollo Imperial

                      And some of the dishes at Charo's in east Long Beach.

                      Although lomo saltado is not my standard, ceviche is!

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                      El Rocoto
                      1356 Artesia Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248

                      El Pollo Imperial
                      5991 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mlgb

                        Had lunch at El Pollo Imperial this past weekend and really enjoyed it. I had the lomo saltado and some sort of mixed plate, everything was good and the service so friendly and sweet. I am no expert but I like EPI more than Kotosh and about as much as Mo-Chica.

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                        Mo-Chica
                        3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                        El Pollo Imperial
                        5991 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805

                        1. re: baloney

                          I finally made it to Mo-Chica with a few friends. The two dishes I would order again are the ceviche (sea bass) and the quinotto (the latter really isn't Peruvian, just good). I love that the ceviche has the seaweed in it, and the fish is perfect. The lomo saltado does use a high quality cut which makes up for the small portion size (actually fine for all but the biggest eaters). The chicha morada is watered down compared to what you would get in Peru (but probably more in line with American tastes). The special of the day (sea bass and lentils) was nothing special and really a tiny portion of fish for $13. All the mains came with cauliflower soup..super bland. Crab Causa was okay, if you had a bit of salsa with it. (With lunch the three salsas don't come out automatically, we needed to ask, and I recommend that you do!)

                          Bottom line there were a few things that hit the spot and a few that were underwhelming (at least if you know what Peruvian food should taste like). It's not a great bargain for lunch ($80 for three people) and kind of small portions for a Peruvian restaurant, but certainly worth a return visit. There is street parking and validation, we went early and didn't have trouble getting a spot.

                          Disclaimer: I am not Peruvian but have visited a few times and had probably 50+meals in Peru, including home cooked, high end and the regular 12-14 sole menus.

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                          Mo-Chica
                          3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                           
                           
                      2. I'm the least-Peruvian person on here, maybe, but I eat a lot of Peruvian food... Puro Sabor and Mo-Chica for sure, but also Las Quenas, on Sherman Way and Bellaire in North Hollywood. They have the best ceviche in town (though if you want cancha you will have to insist... it's their one failing.)

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                        Las Quenas
                        12708 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

                        Puro Sabor
                        6366 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91401

                        Mo-Chica
                        3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                        4 Replies
                          1. re: reality check

                            I haven't been to the one in Pasadena, but the one in Burbank was some of the least appealing Peruvian food I've ever had.

                          2. re: Das Ubergeek

                            No cancha would be a no go, for me.

                            Although I've had a version with chifles on the north coast of Peru, I prefer the cancha (or is it canchas?)

                            1. re: mlgb

                              I think it's cancha - no plural - who could only eat one any way? :)

                          3. Nobody has mentioned Peruvian rotisserie chicken yet, so I'll start with my pick for that specialty.

                            Pollo a la Brasa cooks over a wood fire (no gas at all), and their rotisserie is designed so that the chickens soak in smoke. If you like your roasted chickens deeply smoky, this is the best you'll find in L.A.

                            There are other things on the menu, but not that much. The focus on chicken means lots of turnover of fresh, juicy chicken. They make a pretty good chicken soup (aguadito de pollo) and the anticucho of beef heart is ok, but I generally don't get far beyond the 1/4 chicken platter with lots of aji on the side.

                            There are three locations. I usually hit the one on Vermont Blvd in Gardena, which is close to my work, but there's also one in Koreatown on Western & 8th. I have not been to the Whittier location, so I can't comment on that one.

                            1 Reply
                            1. Have you tried El Hatuchay on Sheman Way/Coldwater?

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                              El Hatuchay
                              12853 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                El Hatuchay is OK but I think Las Quenas, a block east, is far better. What do you like at El Hatuchay?

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                                El Hatuchay
                                12853 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

                                Las Quenas
                                12708 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  The only thing to like at El Hatuchay are the prices. They're a couple of bucks cheaper and offer a good little bowl of chicken soup for free with your meal. The food is not as good as Puro and others.

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                                  El Hatuchay
                                  12853 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

                                  1. re: Galen

                                    what do you guys think of the "pollo inka" chain in torrance, hermosa beach, gardena, lawndale etc.... i have a good buddy who is peruvian and he turned me on to the place.... definitely not high end "white table cloth" kind of place... more "strip mall"... but i have always liked their roast chicken... the lomo saltado etc.... the prices are great... they used to have one in west la on wilshire and barrington... complete with "velvet elvis" painting on the wall etc... pure kitsch but imho good food...

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                                    El Pollo Inka
                                    23705 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505

                                    1. re: panahead

                                      There was a mention of the Pollo Inka in Lawndale here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6983... that you can take a look at.

                                      1. re: panahead

                                        I used to go to the El Pollo Inka at Wilshire and Barrington (years ago when I lived in the area), and I liked it. I've tried the Hermosa Beach location multiple times and I don't like it nearly as much. Roast chicken is still good at that location, but other dishes weren't good at all (e.g., aji de gallena, lomo saltado). Although their roast chicken is good, I actually prefer the roast chicken at Chicken Dijon. So I don't really have reason to go to El Pollo Inka anymore.

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                                        El Pollo Inka
                                        1100 Pacific Coast Hwy Ste 2, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254