When you come to Inka Deli, a new Peruvian spot on Venice Boulevard you’re neither entering a deli nor a restaurant called Inka Deli. Look for El Agave Mexican restaurant (which itself is hard to find) but know the food coming out of the kitchen is 100 percent delicious Peruvian.
This is what eating in LA is all about. Super-friendly people, super-delicious food, super-weird space and super prices.
So it’s a divey Mexican joint that has been taken over by a small but dedicated crew looking to provide fresh, authentic Peruvian eats. Knowing that, they may not always have everything on the menu and calling in ahead is wise to ensure your food won’t take too long and what you want is available.
The most praise so far has been doled out for their whole chicken and their ceviche so this is where The Monster decides to start along with an order of plantains.
You may be tempted by the antichucos de carne, three beef skewers, an Incan delicacy seasoned and served with a side dish. Maybe the lomo saltado is more to your liking with its lean beef sautéed with onions, tomatoes served with garlic steamed rice and French fries. For dessert there is flan, rice pudding with cinnamon and Peruvian shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche and covered with powdered sugar.
Since The Monster didn’t tell them he is eating in the food is already wrapped up to go. A hungry Monster can’t wait and it becomes a bacchanal of eating, an orgy of grunts and moans as that incredibly moist, perfectly prepared chicken is gnawed on, ripped apart and generally abused. While it is not wood roasted if that’s your jam with Peruvian chicken but it is nevertheless tasty.
Oh, that ceviche! Fresh, tart and with a ton of lime, it is greedily devoured as well. It’s served with yams and corn. Perhaps the only disappointment here is the corn is not the huge-kernelled Peruvian variety one might expect.
All of this is served with a salad composed of various greens, tomato and peppers with a nice dressing to spruce it up and a side of garlic rice. At some point the salad, the rice and the plantains all become one intermingled dish on The Monster’s plate smothered in the aji verde. For those who are heat sensitive, this style of aji is not the sweat-inducing variety but rather a more nuanced and flavor-forward version.
Inka Deli is a place with so many strikes against it that The Monster really hopes it succeeds. Lacking a sign or any publicity and with a skeleton crew and limited funds the food and service coming out of the kitchen is a marvel. That they will also deliver makes this spot even more of an unbelievable story.
With a huge smile on his face the now gut-busting Monster leaves Inka Deli with promises that he will return for one of their Friday nights featuring live music and BYOB.
Why go? You thought you wanted Mexican food but really you wanted Peruvian.
Monster rating: 4½/5 Monsters.
12326 Venice Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90066