Worth a Second Look

The Cuisine: Peruvian
The Place: Pollo Inka

Appearances often mislead in restaurants—sumptuous décor conceals poor service, beautiful presentation hides bad food. Appearances mislead at Pollo Inka, too, but in a different direction. Housed in a former Thai restaurant, its gabled, wooden exterior is charming but hardly brings to mind the Andes. The same is true for the ornate Asian woodcarvings inside and the James Taylor playing on the stereo. Pollo Inka bills itself as a rotisserie chicken place. I was expecting mostly standard American fare, with a few Latin American dishes thrown in. But Pollo Inka offers much more.

We skipped the pork stomach (pancita) but tried the soft drink Inka Kola—bright yellow and banana flavored. The waitress brought a creamy green sauce, aji de huacatay, made with jalapeños and Andean mint. We found it good with nearly everything. Giant corn with cheese (choclo entero con queso) is appealing mostly for its novelty—kernels the size of marbles with the flavor of lima beans. Fried yuca comes drenched in a yellow cheese sauce. Less rich and overpowering than it first appears, the sauce complements the subtle, nutty flavor of this potatolike starch. The most successful appetizers are the ceviche mixto—raw fish and seafood marinated in lime juice—and the chicken tamal. Served with cold corn and sweet potatoes, the ceviche is fresh and tender, but not soupy. The difference between this tamal and other tamales I have had in Charlotte is something like the difference between whole wheat and white bread—the flavor is fuller and more satisfying. We fought over the last bite.

Entrées were less exciting. Tallarin saltado is essentially lo mein noodles with beef. The restaurant’s signature rotisserie chicken is tender, but not very distinctive. That’s no great loss, as there are so many intriguing entradas. Come hungry with friends and order a bunch of appetizers. Your curiosity will be rewarded.

Pollo Inka
3210 Sharon Amity Rd.
$-$$, L,D. Closed Tue.

Categories: Food + Drink, Global Table, Restaurant Reviews