25542 Jeronimo Rd.
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Lately I have heard a lot about Peruvian food. I remember eating Peruvian food a long time ago at a place in Costa Mesa called Inka Grill. I liked it the one time I went, but I never went back. Not sure why. I recently got an email asking me to try Inka Mar. Wanting to try something out of the norm for us, I enlisted Katie and Richard to tag along with me.
Peruvian food has been influenced by many different cultures through the years. Italians, Asians, and Spanish, among others have left their marks on the food of Peru. The result is a menu which is unique and varied. Inka Mar recently turned from an Italian/Peruvian restaurant to Peruvian only in mid January. Let's see if the food here will have us craving the cuisine of Peru.
Above is the Bread and Aji sauce that is served before each meal. The bread was average, but the aji sauce was very good. Made of lettuce, jalapenos, and other spices, this really had a great spicy flavor. The spice did not over power the sauce, but you definitely knew it was there.
When I am trying a place for the first time, I like to get a sampler platter to judge more of the food. So that is what we did here. This appetizer platter consisted of three items, the Trio Criollo.
Going left to right on the plate, we have the Papa a la Huancaina. This is boiled potatoes served with a creamy cheese sauce, garnished with a hard boiled egg. I was not in love with this part of the dish. The potatoes surprised me by not being warm. They were served cold. The cheese sauce was just average to me also.
The middle portion of the plate was occupied by the Ceviche Mixto, which is fish, shrimp calamari and mussels mixed with lime juice. The fish did taste fresh, and the flavor was good, but the lime near the end of eating this really overpowered this part of the plate.
The last portion of this appetizer platter was the Choritos A La Chalaca. Here mussels are topped with tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro and lime juice. I found the seafood here fresh, and the topper for the mussel was very flavorful. This is kind of like an oyster shooter, just with a different shellfish. This was definitely my favorite part of this plate. Katie did not try this because she is not a fan of mussels, (that is why she dates me!).
Now on to the entrees. Up first is my Arroz Con Mariscos, or Peruvian Paella. This dish combined Peruvian rice with peas, onions, mussels, and other assorted seafood. I liked the flavor of this, and it came out steaming hot. The rice was very flavorful, but if there was one drawback about this dish, it was that there was not an abundance of seafood in this. A little more seafood would have made the $16 price tag for this a lot better.
Richard got the Bistec a lo Pobre, or poor man's steak. This charbroiled steak came with a fried egg, plantains, sweet potatoes, and rice. This was the kind of dish I had at a Colombian restaurant a few months back. The steak here was more tender though. Richard would have liked the steak to have more seasoning. He loved the rice, but felt the egg did not add anything to this plate. This was also Richard's first time having a plantain, and he was not so sure he liked it. I tried it and liked though.
My favorite item of the night was Katie's choice for dinner, the Saltado de Pollo. This unique dish combined chicken, tomatoes, onions and French fries, sauteed together, and served with white rice. These items all worked very well with each other. The chicken was flavorful and tender, the fries were not all soggy like you would expect. Katie was even excited by the rice. I would gravitate towards this the next time I came here.
For dessert we were given some of their house made ice creams. The flavors of these were Lucuma (kind of like pumpkin), Maracuya (passion fruit), and Mango. All of these were very good, and you can definitely tell that they make these here. They had he texture of homemade ice cream that I had as a kid. The flavors were very unique.
Inka Mar has a good vibe to it. They have a very large menu, and it may take me some time to find my favorites on it. The food here was very fresh. The service was good, but there were only four other tables eating at the time we were here (7 pm on a Wed. night). Hopefully the word will get out about this place, and they can fill those tables.
Out of Machu Picchu's, (the most familiar icon of the Inca world, which is located in Peru), five being best to zero being worst, Inka Mar gets 2.5 Machu Picchu's.
For more information on Inka Mar, click here: http://www.inkamar.com/index.php