Category Archives: Peruvian

Recent Wheaton Food Stuff

Lazy sunny Saturday, lazy headline.  Lazy post too, probably.

Taste of Wheaton is tomorrow.  Or, tomorrow!  (?)  (punctuation!!) Hard to decide how excited to get about the Taste at this point.  I am interested to see how the cooking demos go, including one (at noon) by  Max Prasertmate of the new-to-Wheaton and very good Thai Taste by Kob.  Otherwise, as suspected, participants are the usual suspects (plus Thai Taste!) (thanks to BEI for posting this link in comment to previous post).

Ate at The Chicken Place (2418 University) recently for the first time in years. Their food was about as remembered: pretty good overall, nothing special, but probably underrated considering nobody ever talks about them.  They do a very good charbroiled chicken, and Mrs. Me digs their plantains.  Lomo saltado is only okay, not saucy enough, but the components are fine.  I made the mistake of looking at their Yelp file, which has several recent very negative comments that don’t really hold up.  In particular, I found the Chicken Place service to be super friendly, just as it was years ago, from the owner (?) to all the servers.  They even called me back to tell me it would be 15 minutes longer than originally predicted for the chicken to be ready.  How many restaurants bother to do that?   So we like the Chicken Place.

A new Latino restaurant, called El Catrachito, has opened in the former Gloria’s/Irene’s III/etc. space just a few storefronts down University from Chicken Place.  I can’t find a website for them, but I did find that they had a “food violation” reported but then passed inspection just this week.* Is it better to be investigated and found to be fully sanitary and compliant, or is it better not to have any complaints in the first place?  Anyway,  there were lots of people eating at El Catrachito the other night, so obviously someone likes it.  Will try to go at some point.  I’m weary of every new restaurant being Salvadoran around here.  Bring me all your vindaloos and biryanis!!

* Who knew WUSA posted this stuff??

Taco Loco, or whatever, next door to El Pollo Rico, still isn’t open (is it?) despite being “coming soon” for like a year now.  Honestly I can’t be bothered to investigate further.  Someday I’ll be over there again to peer in the windows.  Maybe they gave up?  Or maybe it’s really open and I am just out to lunch, or “out to lunch” again.

Tonight we are going to friends’ house where they will grill pork chops in apple sauce in honor of Ann B. Davis, a fitting tribute in which we are excited to participate.  Naturally, we are bringing limes.

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Asi Es Mi Disco Halloween

Asi Es MI Disco Dia de los Muertos

Asi Es MI Disco Dia de los Muertos

When most people think of Wheaton restaurants, they think of Thai (for quality) and Salvadoran (for volume).  I think.  And fair enough.  But less well known are Wheaton’s Peruvian places — at least five (not even including the chicken-only places like El Pollo Rico), I have eaten at four, and would recommend three.  In short, a good selection.  We took friends last week to arguably the best of them, as well as the newest, Asi Es Mi Tierra (2559 Ennals, in  the strip near Little Caesar’s).  I’d been before, not long after it opened in spring 2011, and liked it a lot. And I’m not the only one — for example, the Washingtonian raved about the Asi Es seafood.

So naturally we all mostly skipped the seafood, aside from one (excellent) ceviche (I like the pucker-inducing marinated onions even more than the fish) and another fried fish dish left mostly uneaten for unexplained reasons.  I tried to order a beef stew but our server wouldn’t let me — unclear if they were out of it, or if it would have taken too long, or if she didn’t think I would like it.  Probably the middle thing, but who knows.  She directed me instead to a beef rib dish that turned out to be too chewy and lacking in beef (lots of bone), but otherwise rich and flavorful with plenty of rice and beans.  I also got the papas rellenas again, although this time it wasn’t quite as exciting — still excelente, but not muy.  The first bite of the apple is always best.

Others ordered the reliably good lomo saltado, and something chickeny…I didn’t take good (mental) notes because the ambience was too overwhelming.  Asi Es Mi Tierra is normally a minimally decorated unassuming strip mall cafe, but on this night (and I guess all weekend nights) it transforms into a gleeful party bistro, flouncing from retro to modern and back with aplomb.  Within 15 minutes of arriving, we had seen — on the big screen above the main entrance — the original music videos for Nazareth “Love Hurts,” the Village People “YMCA,” and Psy “Gangnam Style”…sublime.  And as if that weren’t enough, they soon started in with the karaoke, mostly in Spanish, and the host was surprisingly good — and then a guy from one of the other tables got up to sing, and he was practically operatic.   Nobody from our party sang, not with that kind of competition.  Okay, we did dance to YMCA, and I said “opa gangnam style” under my breath a few times. But we did enjoy it all, mostly, although it was awfully loud and conversation-inhibiting.

And as if THAT weren’t enough, the restaurant was all decorated for Halloween (btw, happy Halloween, the candy bowl is waiting for the marauding children), with flying Death and Dia de los Muertos paraphernalia all over the walls and ceiling.  AND there were disco lights.  Disco Dia de los Muertos!!  Or to put it in DC terms, Cool “Disco” Dia!!

A unique experience.  We had two eight-year-old boys in our party, and they tried  some chicha morada (a Peruvian sweet corn beverage, bright purple and a decidedly acquired taste) in lieu of soft drinks.  One took a sip and refused to so much as look at the glass again, much less drink more; the other (who had had chicha morada before) said “this drink is both horrible and delicious at the same time.”  That sums up the whole night — not the horrible part, it wasn’t horrible at all, just dichotomy and eras/cultures colliding.  Disco papas.  How lomo can you go?

Si, Asi Es Mi Tierra

My expectations for Wheaton’s newest Latino restaurant, Asi Es Mi Tierra (2559 Ennalls, next to Little Caesars) were moderate, and were exceeded based on one visit. AEMT is Peru-focused but has the standard Wheatonian pan-Latino array of dishes.  Their lomo saltado is an average mix of potatoes, beef, tomato and onion, spruced up by surprisingly tasty cilantro-flecked white rice.  Fried yucca and chicharron is also fine, a little dry, no better (but maybe no worse) than the solid version at The Chicken Place on University.

Papas rellenas, on the other hand, were delicioso: a big gloop of mashed potatos, filled with a savory mixture of egg, raisins, and beef in a red sauce, then fried and served with vinegary red onions and tomato, plus a more or less extraneous yellow mild dipping sauce. SO good.  I could eat this every day (but I won’t, because I would be dead within the year). I don’t even like raisins, and yet I ate it all; I will not admit to licking the foil wrapper it came in but you are welcome to speculate.

Decor is mostly earth tones plus bright green in two places: the ceiling, and the tablecloths (sometimes the tablecloths are red, not green; presumably the ceiling is always green). I would never have picked that color scheme, but it works, especially with the beige tile floor.  The space has seating for about twenty, maybe, plus four or five at a little bar that displays some well-chosen tequilas, rums, etc., plus six beers, mostly domestic but also Peru’s brews Cristal and Cusqueña (the latter allegedly brewed to “the ancient standard of Inca Excellence” — I will take their word for it!). Friendly service too, and bilingual enough for eatin’.  I was pleasantly surprised by the place, and will certainly go back to try more of the wide-ranging menu (plus more papas rellenas).