Wednesday, September 9, 2015

INKA Kitchen


Anthony Bourdain in his old TV show No Reservations made an impulse visit to a legendary hole-in-the-wall in Washington DC called El Pollo Rico, which served something called Peruvian roast chicken (the segment starts 18 minutes into the show). The place was packed, and not just with regulars; out-of-state visitors and even foreign tourists have lined up to order, including myself. 

Now our little burg has acquired our very own Peruvian chicken joint, and I don't have to drive ninety minutes to order; just take Route 30 east of I-81, right next to KFC to try some of the best chicken in town. 

You heard me. I say this standing next to the Chambersburg Branch of Korporate Franchised Chicken, with a straight solemn face. 

"Best chicken in town."

Why? Because the chicken is rubbed with cumin, oregano, black pepper, paprika, vinegar and garlic; because it's slow-roasted till juice-dripping tender; because it's served with a small cucumber-and-carrot salad and yucca fries--basically french fries on steroids.  

The result runs down your mouth, literally; you wipe with the side of your hand, then lick your hand. Yes, it's that good.

INKA Kitchen (717 491 1833) isn't all fowl play though; their seafood rocks, as in the only place I know in the area (South Central Pennsylvania) that serves ceviche. Y'know--raw seafood marinated in lime.

Nothing new to Filipinos--we have our own version called kilawin done in a calamansi lime dip with sliced ginger as well as onion (for that Asian kick). The dish is actually less extreme than sushi, as the lime acts to cook the shellfish.

Ceviche though is considered the Peruvian national dish; they take pride in the freshness of their seafood. This lives up to expectations: raw scallops, raw fish, raw shrimp, your basic briny tangy meat, served with a side of red onions and those massive yucca fries. 

Then there's the barbacoa tacos, oxtail meat in soft tacos (accept nothing harder) with cilantro, raw onions, a squeeze of lime and some kind of red pepper sauce.

The tamales--corn masa (a corn-based dough) stuffed with chicken meat, wrapped in banana leaf, and steamed--is pictured above with a pickled red cabbage salad (which nicely cuts into the rich fat-drenched cornmeal).

And a Puerto Rican classic: mofongo, or plantains, garlic and chicharrones mashed together and formed in a ball (in this case about the size of a large softball), here served with some very tender asada (steak tenderloin tips). 

Check out their yelp page: folks seem to like it a lot. Hidden little gem (they operate literally under the KFC pylon sign) that when you finally find it seems surprisingly bright and clean, with friendly service and reasonable prices.

And O, don't forget that ceviche. 

And that chicken.

No comments:

Post a Comment