Restaurant News: Peruvian cuisine’s popularity celebrated with opening of El Rey in Lynnwood
El Rey, a new restaurant now open in Lynnwood, was full of families. It was mid-afternoon on a Sunday – normally a somewhat quieter time slot, but within the community word of this new Peruvian food spot spread quickly. Colorful murals light up the walls of 12926 Mukilteo Speedway E15.
A recent article showed the women working in the restaurant in traditional attire, but today Yacira – the head of the family and the source of the authentic food served in El Rey – was dressed in sensible work clothes and a colorful apron on the Peru theme, as it was. his daughter Yandira. Staff were quick to respond to requests from tables filled with moms, dads and kids.
A member of my family did missionary work in Peru. If one place wasn’t serving Inca Kola at a facility here in the United States, it wasn’t the real deal. Rest assured, parked around the corner of every table full of family members was a quart of pale yellow Inca Kola, Peru’s national soft drink. The yellowish color and taste of chewing gum is unique among sodas. Some tables had two bottles.
Drinks beyond plastic liters are intriguing:
While I wanted to try one of the fresh mango and carrot juice blends, it was not available and I opted for Chicha Mirado Vado. The traditional preparation is to boil the purple corn in water with pineapple peels and pieces of quince, adding a pinch of cinnamon and a few cloves. Once the substance has boiled, you filter and let cool to add the sugar, chopped fruit and lemon.
Refresco Maracuya (fresh passion fruit juice) is another healthier choice offered in El Rey.
As I walked over to give my order at the counter, I saw the heads and shoulders of cooks working in unison, their backs turned to me as orange flames shot from the grill. Memories of visits to Mae Phim, a legendary Thai restaurant on 1st and Columbia in downtown Seattle, came to mind and confirmed that this South American establishment was indeed the “real deal”.
My daughter Yandira was taking care of the counter this afternoon of my visit. As she filled my two fabric bags with several containers, she raised her eyebrows and asked, “Large family?” “
Well… it’s hard work – the job of reviewing restaurant dishes means sampling as many different dishes as possible.
Here are my selections and impressions. (spoiler alert – most photos are posted from El Rey and more appealing, compared to my takeout box versions):
Papa A La Copoa: an appetizer consisting of sliced baked potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, large tasty black olives – all the ingredients covered in a creamy sauce flavored with black mint (huacatay – a plant native to the city of Arequipa, Peru).
Lomo Saltado: This comforting dish is a combination of starches, a generous serving of steamed white rice, grilled sliced steaks, and colorful vegetables – roasted peppers and onions – which gave the dish a lovely color and a visual appeal, but this mix topped a bunch of fries. Eh? I was amazed to discover the bottom layer of long, peeled and fried potatoes; these appear to be homemade. I took a few bites: the salted potatoes at the bottom were lightly fried and balanced out the rice, veggies, and grilled meat.
The Peruvian-style ceviche includes potatoes with very tender pieces of white fish. It was dressed in spicy lime juice (which can be purchased separately as a drink called Leche De Tigre), onions, and other pieces of vegetables that have spent time in this marinade. A garnish of thinly sliced red onions added interest to the dish.
Arroz con Pollo would have been an obvious choice, except that the chicken in this dish is actually breaded and fried. I opted for a quarter of the roast chicken so I could taste this expert grilling job I had witnessed. A succulent chicken inside a roasted crispy skin was my reward.
Arroz con Mariscos provided plenty of rice, even a little more to accompany my quarter chicken. Colorful and well-seasoned additions of carrots, onions and peas, along with the bounty of the sea – shrimp, tender pieces of white fish and mussels – are combined with the tasty arroz.
The food photos I had seen on El Rey’s Facebook posts displayed an item that was not on the website menu. Pachamanca is the name of this dish. On its own, this is a great order for two or even three people. The amount of grilled meat, steamed vegetables, boiled potatoes and the hot sauce that goes with them can easily be shared. Dessert even comes with this starter, in the form of what I initially mistook for tamales. A snack and I saved the rest for the end of the meal. A sweet corn cone was nestled in pods and reheated on the grill.
Readers, check out El Rey’s Facebook page for “specials” that are posted throughout the week, and Sunday always has a unique dish.
Getting to El Rey in northern Lynnwood is a short drive up to I-5 north and taking the Mukilteo exit, an easy way to get there.
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Updates on Thanksgiving Day
I’m always grateful when our local restaurateurs keep me posted. Here is more news:
Claire’s Pantry is a tradition for many families in Edmonds every Thanksgiving, and this year they’re open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. They are offering take-out and on-site food this year, as well as an online option also at www.clairespantry.com.
Bistro 76 in the Perrinville district is organizing a feast with “Thanksgiving Take and Bakes”. The Bistro will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but it’s open the day before, which is also pickup day for take out and pastries. They go back to their normal schedule the day after Thanksgiving. Bistro 76 will be accepting orders until Tuesday, November 23. Menu here:
Scott’s Bar & Grill is offering turkey at Diestel for in-person meals on November 25: tender and juicy with real old-fashioned flavor, slow growing without hormones, the bird comes with a chicken stuffing and with apples, mashed potatoes from the Yukon and chef’s vegetables, fresh cranberry relish and turkey sauce. Reservations: scottsbarandgrill.com.
While none of Jeff Barnett’s locations – Boathouse Taproom and Salish Sea – are open on Thanksgiving Day, he explained that the Flying Taco Truck will be at the Boathouse location in Edmonds’ Harbor Square on Wednesday evening. This is the perfect opportunity before settling into turkey prep and other vacation-related tasks. Treat yourself to some terrific tacos, maybe a growler of your favorite beer too.
Before Thanksgiving, treat yourself to a lobster dinner at Anthony’s HomePort on the Edmonds waterfront. Enjoy a lobster tail, with pilau rice and steamed asparagus. Not only is this a great deal, but a respite from the turkey recipes and planning. The special ends November 24.
As we taste our food on Thursday, give thanks for our strong community and the people who strive to provide fabulous food for us to enjoy – almost every day. Many places are closed to allow staff and owners to enjoy a well-deserved vacation with family and friends. They will get back to it the next day. I wish them all the best and we are heading for the holidays.
May we all be generous with our food tours this winter, be kind and tip well.
– By Kathy Passage
A gourmet specialtyAs a food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has an in-depth knowledge of foods and the unique qualities of the ingredients used in the exquisite products she has helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique “other side of the plate” perspective to writing on the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.