Awhile back, I mentioned to Kim (I'm Only Here for the Food!) that Latin food was not something that I ate much of. In fact, I really didn't know where to find good authentic Latin food either. Tonight, Kim took myself and TS (eating_club Vancouver) to El Inka Deli for a little Latin experience. The day started off quite well, being sunny and hot. Consequently, I thought that washing both cars would be a great idea. However, as I was washing the second car, it began to rain. And when I finally arrived at El Inka, it really began to pour. For a minute there, I thought I was in Edmonton, where sudden thunder storms happen quite often in the summer. Okay, I'm digressing here.
El Inka actually closes at 8:00pm, but the owner was such a nice guy that he didn't kick us out even though we stayed way past the closing time. El Inka is a pretty small restaurant located in a very odd place. Near the Burnaby Hospital, it resides on Sunset, which is an extremely wide street of businesses in the middle of a predominantly residential area. Looking over the menu, I honestly didn't have any clue what everything was or what I should order. I finally settled on something that was familiar - Mondongo or Tripe Soup. For good measure, I added Papas a la Huancaina, which were sliced potatoes topped with a sauce consisting of cheese, Peruvian peppers and evaporated milk. The dish looked plain; but it was quite pleasant to eat. The potatoes were soft and the sauce was very delicate. TS ordered the Ceviche to start. In addition to having the right tartness, there was a spicy kick at the end. TS ended up putting the rest of it in a cup and drank the rest of the liquid.
The tripe soup was really quite good. I enjoyed the natural flavour of tripe in the broth. It was evident; yet not overpowering. Most of the pieces of tripe were tender enough to chew; but one piece I had to give up on after 5 minutes. Other items in the soup included peas, potato and a piece of short rib. Served on the side were a piece of avocado, flavoured rice and arepas (flat bread). TS has the mother of all dishes there called the Bandeja Paisa. The dish consisted of red beans cooked with plantains, rice, avocado, ground beef, fried egg, fried plantains, chirizo and chicharron. It was a lot of food and since TS was still sipping on her ceviche, she didn't finish it. I tried the chicharron (fried pork skin) and although it tasted great, I had a difficult time gnawing through it. Kim had the Moiara (fried whole Tilapia) with fried green plantain, rice and salad. The fish was fried up very crispy with the meat a tad overdone. Yet, with a squeeze of lime juice, the fish was good. I really liked the fried plantain because it was both crispy and flavourful. Kim explained it was actually mashed up green plantain, then fried. This resulted in a much less starchy texture.
We shared a slice of Tres Leche at the end for good measure. It wasn't too sweet and had just the right amount of evaporated and condensed milk. Some other versions I've tried have been way too sweet. Thanks to Kim, I had a unique culinary experience. The place itself is quaint, being a little hole-in-the-wall. The owner was very gracious and provided sincere service. It's not very often you get honest service these days. It's really too bad that we don't have enough of these restaurants around the GVRD.
- Authentic Latin food
- Honest, sincere service
- Something a little bit different
- Prices are a bit on the higher side (roughly ~$15.00 per dish)