El Pollo Imperial: High Altitude on Atlantic
2011-11-07 · By Chandra Clewley
If you are anything like me, you are a sucker for anything south of the border, food wise. I am pretty obsessed with finding the best Latin food that Long Beach has to offer, and it had been awhile since I had Peruvian for dinner. I love Peruvian food, although I have to admit the idea of actually travelling to Peru seems daunting. I know one too many of my friends who have had to have oxygen delivered to their high altitude hotel rooms while staying over in this gorgeous country!
It is always a delight to find a Peruvian restaurant nearby and El Pollo Imperial is in the heart of North Long Beach. On an unassuming corner, sits this unassuming restaurant. When you walk up, it looks like a fast food joint but don’t let the décor fool you, this place is good. We were greeted as we walked in and the wait staff is all friendly and relaxed. We were seated quickly, and we could see right into the busy kitchen. El Pollo Imperial isn’t a secret to the locals, apparently, because the place was almost full and it was a Sunday night. I noticed full two liter bottles of Inca Kola on some of the tables, so I knew I was in for a good meal.
When we sat down we were given the delicious white rolls that start off a classic Peruvian meal. We started off with the Papa Rellena, which is a potato puff stuffed with ground beef and spices. How can you go wrong with Ground Beef and Potato? It was naturally, delicious. This dish reminded me a lot of Cuban and Lebanese appetizers I have experienced.
For our main course, we ordered the Lomo Saltado. It was a generous portion of deliciously marinated beef, tomatoes, onions, and French fries, with a scoop of white rice on the side. Of course, I had to poor half the bottle of the “green stuff” that sits on your table, onto my rice. I mean, what IS this sauce? It actually is called Aji sauce, named after the Aji Chili Pepper and occasionally contains another key Peruvian ingredient, Huacatay, which is an herb, sometimes called “black mint”. The sauce consists of mayonnaise, jalapenos, garlic and other specialized ingredients depending on the restaurant and a bottle of it sits on every table in Peruvian restaurants, is spicy, and amazingly tasty. I have noticed, depending on when you visit, it will sometimes be spicier or milder.
El Pollo Imperial is a delicious Peruvian in the heart of North Long Beach, and is at 5991 Atlantic Ave. For hours call (562) 612-3315.