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Inka Deli - Peruvian in Mar Vista

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BrewNChow Apr 2, 2012 02:17 PM

Just got a great rotisserie chicken from Inka Deli. They share the space with El Agave and they don't have their own sign, so it's a little hard to find. The chicken was really flavorful and they had that really good peruvian green sauce... Next time I'll try their lomo saltado or something but it'll be hard not to get that chicken again. It was outstanding. This is definitely a spot I recommend hitting if you're in the area.

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    Jase RE: BrewNChow Apr 2, 2012 02:36 PM

    Thanks for this. Looks like they just moved in? We live in the area and walk past El Agave all the time and didn't notice this at all. Looking forward to trying in. Here's their website.

    http://inkadeli.com/index.html

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jase
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      bulavinaka RE: Jase Apr 2, 2012 05:22 PM

      Thanks for posting their website. That aji and the general menu looks promising...

      1. re: Jase
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        BrewNChow RE: Jase Apr 3, 2012 02:02 PM

        Yes, they are new. Apparently El Agave has been doing most of its business through it's food truck (often parked in front of the restaurant.) Because of this, they haven't been open as regularly and haven't had much traffic.

        Inka Deli couldn't afford its own space just yet, so they split the rent with El Agave. They don't have their own sign so just go into El Agave and you're there. Hopefully they'll get settled in and stay open, as I'll be going there regularly. This place is legit.

        1. re: BrewNChow
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          Jase RE: BrewNChow Apr 3, 2012 08:09 PM

          I'm a little surprised at how popular the El Agave truck is. Maybe I've ordered the wrong thing but the few times I've tried them didn't do anything for them.

          Thanks again for the heads up on this. It would be great to have good roast chicken in the neighborhood. We've been defaulting to Coppelia's on Venice when we want rotisserie chicken. We like theirs but always nice to have more options.

          1. re: Jase
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            bulavinaka RE: Jase Apr 3, 2012 09:43 PM

            We dropped by for dinner tonight. Order the whole chicken - it comes with a platter of papas fritas and another platter of fresh salad (very fresh and not the usual stuff - arugula was one of the major components). The pollo a la brasa was perfectly roasted. It's not wood-fired but the flavors and moistness were spot on otherwise. The whole bird meal can feed four - take home the leftovers.

            As mentioned already, this is a shared space with El Agave. Inka Deli is actually run by one person - Ernesto - and he is on a limited budget and is by himself for now. He's fastidious and focused on fresh quality ingredients, and insists on cooking everything to order (except the polla a la brasa of course). Because he is by himself, the pacing can be a little slow. He suggests calling in your order so he can get the dishes going before your arrival, whether eating in or taking out (he said he delivers as well). Because he's a small start-up operation (he's been here for about a month), and because he tries to instill quality and freshness, he only carries so much of any given ingredient - he may run out of certain things before the end of the day - so it's that much more of a reason to call ahead. The menu is somewhat limited for now, but hopefully with more business, he will offer more dishes.

            We also ordered the ceviche (he only has one basic kind right now), chaufa and lomo saltado. The ceviche was picante, very fresh and acidic with a fair dosing of lime, garnished with yam and corn. The corn is the basic stuff - not the giant-kerneled maiz chulpe, and no cancha. Again, he's somewhat limited right how but he is very eager for comments and suggestions.

            The two other dishes were really good. Ernesto is a wok athlete. You can watch him as he works it. I don't know the Peruvian term for wok hei, but he knows how to achieve this - Ernesto credits the flavor to technique and a blessing from The Almighty (he said he asks for a blessing with each dish he prepares). Both dishes were perfectly cooked. My only complaint might be that the portion size for the lomo saltado was a bit small compared to the average size at other Peruvian eateries. But the beef was very tender and flavorful.

            He has two salsas - aji verde and salsa de rocoto. Both aji are somewhat classic in taste but very rich in texture. No lettuce, water or other fillers in his salsas - we really enjoyed them, particularly the aji - it's very earthy and has great affinity with rice. I'd lean toward using the rocoto with shrimp or meats.

            All of Ernesto's business for the most part is word-of-mouth. He has no signage up - he hopes to get something up soon - but he's doing a balancing act with what little capital he has for now. I hope he picks up more business soon - he's a keeper.

            1. re: bulavinaka
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              kevin RE: bulavinaka Apr 3, 2012 09:57 PM

              What's the address? Since there's no signage on this joint.

              So order the pollo a la brass and the lomo saltado and the ceviche.
              ???

              Thanks.

              1. re: kevin
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                bulavinaka RE: kevin Apr 3, 2012 10:07 PM

                http://inkadeli.com/index.html

                He is in the space occupied by El Agave - on the south side if Venice Blvd, half a block east of Centinela. I'd look over the menu and then call to see what Ernesto actually has. Of the eight potential dishes we were considering, he was able to fulfill only four.

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        nosh RE: BrewNChow Apr 4, 2012 03:32 PM

        I tried Inka Deli for lunch today. Had the chicken skewers -- three skewers with three fairly large chunks of white-meat chicken each, with rice and a salad ($8.50). Chicken was nicely done with a flavorful bit of crust from the char, a nice portion. No green sauce served with it -- owner told me he is expecting the Peruvian greens by the weekend -- could have used that or a good garlic sauce. I was one of only three diners during my lunch, but owner was very busy cooking and packaging orders to go. Very friendly and eager to please, and when I told him this thread brought me there he didn't seem to know about Chowhound.

        10 Replies
        1. re: nosh
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          bulavinaka RE: nosh Apr 4, 2012 05:36 PM

          >>owner told me he is expecting the Peruvian greens by the weekend<<

          You confirm my suspicions that "compromise" isn't in his vocabulary. Just concerned if this business model will hold up relative to his current status...

          1. re: bulavinaka
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            Feed_me RE: bulavinaka Apr 5, 2012 11:36 PM

            I picked up the whole chicken today. I ordered it yesterday and told Ernesto's partner I'd pick it up around 4:30 pm. When I got there at 4:15, he told me "it's ready in 5 more minutes." Talk about timing. Anyway it came with their garlic rice and salad (spring mix with chopped tomatoes and side dressing). It was a pretty good sized bird and nicely cooked. I liked it, but my sister said it had a touch too much salt. My sister doesn't believe in salt, so you should keep that in mind. I finally talked to Ernesto since he was doing the cooking. It is really a pretty new operation, but they're nice guys and seemed to be doing a good job. Ernesto told me he wanted any criticisms, comments or etc. He really wants to please so that's good for us 'hounds. I plan to go back for some other dishes. Liked the food and liked the owners. They told me they deliver too. They also asked me (yesterday) where I'd heard about them and I told them the internet.

            1. re: Feed_me
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              bulavinaka RE: Feed_me Apr 6, 2012 07:44 AM

              I'm glad you called ahead - I think that's the standard protocol until he can truly establish a decent customer base. It was kinda frustrating for us when we started to order from the menu and Ernesto started to point out what he was out of. Now that I know he's doing it all himself, and that he's only going to carry what ever he thinks will sell for now, and only in quantities that he knows will assure freshness, getting the 411 on what's available prior to going is the standard.

              1. re: bulavinaka
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                New Trial RE: bulavinaka Apr 17, 2012 02:38 AM

                To quote "Family Guy," "Bird is the Word." Really good rotisserie chicken with delicious garlic rice and a terrific aji. I agree with you, Bulavinaka, the owner is also great--very concerned about his food and your enjoyment of it.

                1. re: New Trial
                  Ciao Bob RE: New Trial Apr 17, 2012 09:36 AM

                  Wow sounds really great.

                  Any idea what his hours are, anyone?

                  1. re: Ciao Bob
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                    New Trial RE: Ciao Bob Apr 18, 2012 08:51 PM

                    Currently, he is closing about 8:30 - 9:00. The website shows later hours but is not accurate.

                    1. re: New Trial
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                      kevin RE: New Trial Apr 18, 2012 08:52 PM

                      This chef remains quite elusive.

                      1. re: kevin
                        Servorg RE: kevin Apr 19, 2012 06:54 AM

                        Well, he has to go back and forth from here to Pann's to fix their "elusive" corned beef hash... (joke)

                        1. re: Servorg
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                          kevin RE: Servorg Apr 19, 2012 10:21 AM

                          Well. The corned beef hash there is definitely very salty for me and fatty so I guess it's a good thing that it remains elusive.

                        2. re: kevin
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                          Capybara RE: kevin Apr 19, 2012 10:20 AM

                          A one-man operation that delivers can be somewhat problematic.

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            Jase RE: BrewNChow Apr 19, 2012 11:13 AM

            Popped in last night a little after 6 and he said he closes around 8:30 usually. Ordered several items to go. Half chicken, the boneless chicken thighs aka chicharron, the beef skewers and the chicken fried rice. Everything came with a salad. You also get a choice of fries or garlic steamed rice. I got some of each. Entire bill came to $38 and change. Took a little under half hour to get everything as he prepared most of the items from scratch. Make sure to feed the meters. They're active until 8 p.m.

            Since I took it home, some of the items steamed a little bit and I won't judge on the crispyness of the skin or anything like that. Really liked the half chicken. Juicy all the way through. Liked the seasoning on it. For $9 with salad and choice of rice or fries, I think it’s a great value. It would make a very filling meal for one and good for two smaller appetites.

            Really liked the chicharron. Very juicy, big flavorful hunks of meat. My wife thought it was a bit too aggressively seasoned with salt. She found the same with the beef skewers. She liked the spices used, but the salt ratio higher than her preference. I can definitely see it as an issue for salt sensitive people. But we both found the beef and chicken pieces cooked very well, tender and juicy.

            The fried rice was chock full of meat, egg and veggies. All seasoned very well and balanced flavors. Wok hey was middling for my tastes, but the overall flavor was there. I’d be happy to eat this as a quick comfort meal any time.

            Side dishes were just okay. The salad is better than what you’d expect out of a small place. Varied greens with some peppers and tomatoes. Not just basic iceberg. The rice was plain, not a lot of garlic flavor in it but well cooked not mushy or dry. The fries were kind of a disappointment, basic crinkle cut. Still, you don’t come here for the sides. In the future, I’d stick with the rice as my side choice. You can use it to soak up the juices pooled from the chicken and beef skewers. Oh, almost forgot about the aji verde. He was out of the roccoto. But I liked the verde, very thick version, almost bean paste like thick.

            Overall, very happy with the dishes. Hits many of the important factors for me such as taste, price to quality and quantity ratio. The one drawback is the amount of time until the order is out. That’s something I don’t mind as long as I know about it. But don’t come in here expecting a quick fast food type service and getting out quickly for a meal.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Jase
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              kevin RE: Jase Apr 19, 2012 12:59 PM

              Ok. I'll definitely come here for the rotisserie chicken. And probably just skip the sides.

              Was the chicken infused with wood smoke according to the precepts of traditional Peruvian pollo a la brasa?

              Thanks.

              1. re: kevin
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                Jase RE: kevin Apr 19, 2012 01:30 PM

                Frankly, this would be a disappointment to anyone driving across town just to try it. It's very good, but it's not a destination chicken by any means. If you're in the area, it's a great stop as long as you're willing to wait as noted.

                No smoke as Bulavinaka pointed out in his previous post that you responded to.

                And as I pointed out, the sides come with the dishes, there is no ala carte chicken only option currently.

                1. re: Jase
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                  kevin RE: Jase Apr 19, 2012 02:37 PM

                  Ok. Thanks for the other tips.

                  1. re: kevin
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                    Feed_me RE: kevin Apr 21, 2012 08:33 PM

                    I was there tonight and they had a few items not listed on the menu: Peruvian tamales and skewers with beef heart. I didn't try those items and I didn't ask prices, but I'd recommend calling first any way since only about half the menu listed items were available. There was a guy serving and when I asked he said they closed "around 10 pm every night." Ernesto did come out after getting all the orders out and came around to ask for any comments or suggestions. He is definitely trying to do his best. It does take a while for the food to come out, so if you're in a hurry you'd probably be best served calling in ahead (if they do that).

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              Ogawak RE: BrewNChow Apr 21, 2012 10:07 PM

              I went here Thursday evening based on everyone's recommendations. I didn't call beforehand, but just hoped for the best. The El Agave restaurant was nearly empty, and Ernesto was behind the counter. I ordered the whole chicken, with garlic rice and salad for $16. the order took maybe 10 minutes. I thought the chicken was flavorful and juicy and a little salty, but good. The garlic rice was really delicious.

              I hope to try other items on the menu. Certainly good to have this place in the neighborhood.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ogawak
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                kevin RE: Ogawak Apr 22, 2012 07:28 PM

                ok, i'll definitely try it this week.

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                bulavinaka RE: BrewNChow Apr 22, 2012 10:32 PM

                >>He suggests calling in your order so he can get the dishes going before your arrival<<

                >>...so it's that much more of a reason to call ahead.<<

                >>I'd look over the menu and then call to see what Ernesto actually has.<<

                >>I ordered it yesterday and told Ernesto's partner I'd pick it up around 4:30 pm.<<

                >>I'm glad you called ahead...<<

                >>...getting the 411 on what's available prior to going is the standard.<<

                >>...but I'd recommend calling first any way since only about half the menu listed items were available.<<

                >>It does take a while for the food to come out, so if you're in a hurry you'd probably be best served calling in ahead...<<

                In this day and age, extemporaneousness and convenience are taken for granted. But until Ernesto steps it up another notch, one should embrace this step if considering a meal here: please call first.

                1. k
                  KristynS RE: BrewNChow Apr 23, 2012 07:38 PM

                  I ate at Inka Deli today, and the Lomo Saltado was amazing. Incredibly flavorful and cooked to perfection. Sadly, I learned from Ernesto and Sergio (his partner) that, out of the blue, the owner of El Agave is ending their lease on May 15th. Pure speculation might focus on the threat the boys at Inka Deli pose with their recent success, as it is no secret that El Agave has been struggling, and ID has been pulling in more clientele. Nonetheless, whatever the reason might be, if this happens, the guys will be looking for a new space in Mar Vista. Keep spreading the word, and hopefully they will find a new home!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KristynS
                    Servorg RE: KristynS Apr 23, 2012 07:57 PM

                    Tell 'em that the space that Gallegos Mexican Deli was in just across Centinela on the S side of Venice Blvd. should be available as they just closed.

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                    jsandler RE: BrewNChow Apr 26, 2012 08:45 AM

                    Went to Inka Deli last night and thought it was really good. We had the lomo saltado and the chicharron. Both were cooked perfectly. The beef in the saltado was actually still a bit rare and the chicharron (friend chicken thighs) had wonderfully crispy skin and succulent meat. Also, I loved the aji. Far better than I've had at a lot of other places. The owner explained that he makes his from bread, milk and Pervuian herbs and a lot of other places severaly water it down and don't actually use the proper Peruvian herbs. He also mentioned that there is curerntly live Andean music on Friday nights.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: jsandler
                      Servorg RE: jsandler Apr 26, 2012 09:13 AM

                      Aji - the "green" Peruvian marching substance...

                      1. re: Servorg
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                        kevin RE: Servorg Apr 26, 2012 11:58 AM

                        Well for crissakes, I better hit this place up already. And the trek is obviously less dear of a drive than to MoChica or Pollo a la Brasa, which would be much more comparable it sounds like.

                        What day in May is the closing date ?

                        1. re: kevin
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                          BrewNChow RE: kevin Apr 26, 2012 04:03 PM

                          May 15, and buddy, this place blows pollo a la brasa out of the water (not that PALB's food doesn't taste awesome)

                          and jsand, I agree about the doneness of the meat in the lomo, it's awesome

                      2. re: jsandler
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                        bulavinaka RE: jsandler Apr 28, 2012 09:15 AM

                        >>The owner explained that he makes his from bread, milk and Pervuian herbs and a lot of other places severaly water it down and don't actually use the proper Peruvian herbs.<<

                        El Pollo Inka is guilty on a capital level of this. The first thing I notice on my palate when I tried their aji is lettuce and water - their chicken was pretty good though (the Hawthorne/Lawndale location with the wood-burning oven). On the other hand, Puro Sabor's aji is very reminiscent in taste profile as Ernesto's - very herbaceous and substantive with a picante kick.

                      3. Ciao Bob RE: BrewNChow Apr 26, 2012 02:08 PM

                        I decided Inka Deli would be perfect to grab for a pre-Springsteen tailgate tonite.
                        Can't wait for the food...and the Boss!

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