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Peruvian Food: Unusual, Reasonably Priced, in Friendly Pollo Rico

By: Dinner Gong

Date Posted: 2000-05-13

Of all the varieties of Latin American cuisine purveyed by restaurants, one of the least known is the cooking of Peru. Pollo Rico is a homely little family run restaurant which would serve as a good introduction to the genre.

It is run by Fernando de las Casas Kohatsu who was born in Peru but has Japanese blood. He arrived here by a circuitous route. He left Peru in 1989 when conditions were bad in his homeland. The murderous guerilla group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) was still inflicting its reign of terror on the country and he thought a better place to settle would be Australia, where he has a sister. He was however, never able to jump the hurdle Australian immigration, and because his maternal grandparents were Okinawan, decided to work in Japan for a year.

That was 11 years ago. He now has a Japanese wife who helps him run the thriving Pollo Rico. The restaurant is cozy with tapestries on the walls of rural scenes depicting the Indian natives of Peru. There’s a polished wooden floor and solidly carved, ornate wooden furniture. The Latin atmosphere is augmented by Spanish language tapes of musical and sporting events from Peru, shown on two television monitors. There are Peruvian magazines to read while you wait for your order.

As you enter the restaurant there is a rack of South American handicrafts, some of which are on sale. They include brightly woven, leather trimmed bags, ashtrays stamped with imprints of llamas and T-shirts.

Pollo Rico also sells some food items from home. The customers, surprisingly, are mostly Japanese who have become addicted to the cuisine, rather than the many South Americans who live on the island. They buy canned peppers, coriander, canario beans, a type of maize that is cooked like popcorn, maiz morado (purple corn) which is apparently good for high blood pressure, cinnamon and clove and manzanilla tea.

As well as Orion and Corona Mexican beer, you can drink a light refreshing lager from Peru called Cristal. There is Chilean white and red wine, Leon de Tarapaca, at ¥2500 a bottle and ¥450 a glass. The soft drinks include Mango Juice, Chicha (Purple Corn Juice) and Inca Cola, golden sweet and fizzy, all at ¥250. Cocktails are Peruvian and Brazilian and are Tequila, Vodka, Gin and Rum based. They cost from ¥600 to ¥850.

The menu has 20 selections, including Aji de Gallina, a stewed, creamy flavored chicken, at ¥800; Lomo Saltado, fries, beef and tomato in soy sauce, ¥800; Estofado con pure Peruvian stewed beef with mashed potato, ¥900; Apanado, Peruvian steak, ¥1000; Combinado, Stewed Beef with Beans, ¥1000; Adobo, Pork stewed in red wine and onions ¥1050; Anticucho, cow’s heart grilled on skewers, ¥500.

Dinner Gong sampled Langostino Al Ajo, shrimps in garlic sauce for 1200. The shrimps were juicy and the creamy sauce piquant. D.G.’s friend also tried Seco Combinado, Stewed Peruvian beef with coriander and beans, at ¥1000. The meat was chunky and the coriander and beans set it off very well. They also sampled Papa a la Huancaina at ¥400 a tasty potato salad in sauce with lettuce and egg trimmings.

To sum up, Pollo Rico is a friendly restaurant, offering unusual South American at reasonable prices. Try it.

Directions: Approaching Naha down Hwy 58, turn left at Pizza House and take Route 38. Go over Routes 330 and 241 intersections. Go past Tsutaya and Lawson on your left. Pollo Rico is on the right.

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