Tucked away in one of Irvines bland, low-rise industrial parks is Incas Fine Peruvian Cuisine & Seafood, a spicy little mom and pop restaurant that caters mostly to the working lunch crowd. On most nights, the restaurant mellows into a small family affair, the father or one of his two daughters serving the food and the mother working the kitchen.
In the evening, they bring you the aji, a spicy green condiment, in a small, decorative bowl with a wooden spoon. If you like spicy food, ladle some of the aji on your bread and enjoy as you wait to place your order. They have fresh bread delivered to them every day from a Cuban bakery; the bread is pillowy soft with a slightly crunchy crust and excellent paired with the aji. Next, be sure to order the yuca frita. The yuca frita is a starchy appetizer deep fried to a golden brown. Each piece is light and filled with subtle, refined flavors, which, like the bread, pairs very well with the aji.
On a cold winter's night, I like to order the jugoso, a richly favored stew with succulent white fish, served with a side of rice. Ladle some of the stew and fish onto your rice, add some aji if you like, and enjoy a meal of delicate, flaky fish with rich, spicy broth. Or, try their picante de pollo, a dish of shredded chicken and bite size potatoes in a spicy garlic and chili sauce, also paired with a mound of fresh rice. The lomo saltado and the saltado de pollo are both tasty, but the fries come saturated in the savory juices, so they tend to fall apart. The arroz con mariscos, a blend of shrimp, calamari, and fish cooked with rice and topped with onions marinated in lime juice is also a delight.
Finally, save a little room for their homemade leche asada, or Peruvian flan, served in a small glass cup. It's hard to imagine packing all of that happiness into such a small cup! The top of the flan is delicately burned, imparting a hint of the wonderful flavor of burnt caramel. The flan itself is dense, tasty, and smooth; be sure to dig all the way down to reach the light caramel syrup hidden at the bottom--it's a treasure. Beware, if you're sharing the flan, you may be in for a battle of small proportions.
Most meals range from $6 to $10.
16277 Laguna Canyon Rd # A, Irvine, CA 92618
Phone: (949) 753-1276
Side note: "The Green Knight" was formerly known as "Irvine Munchy."