I remember my time in Peru and I remember the food. Like many countries it could be a hit or miss affair, but when it was good, it was really good. On one of my many visits to the SOMA StrEat Food Park I wandered past the El Calamar food truck touting its Peruvian cuisine.
Looking over the menu the dishes are all traditional Peruvian--no hybrids or mix of local flavors or other ethnicities. Since I'm sticking to one dish here I studied the listing to see which one would give me the most bang for my buck and chose the jalea. (ha-lee-a)
Deep fried shrimp, tilapia, calamari, corn kernels and yucca and a small salad of pickled purple onions. Made to order, it will take a few extra minutes to get you food, but what you do get is hot, crispy and delicious. The seafood is lightly battered, like a tempura almost and it all tasted fresh--no rubberiness or over fishy taste here. You get plenty of calamri and 3 strips of tilapia but literally only the one shrimp you see on top so the menu is a bit misleading in that regard, still it was all very tasty. Same with the three fried stalks of yucca, crispy on the outside, soft and thick on inside. You also get a traditional snack treat of cancha salada which is roasted/fried/salted corn kernels--cancha is the type of corn which has large kernels. It's like a really crunchy version of the unpopped kernels you get at the bottom of a popcorn bag. I'll say these may not be to every ones liking and a few bites can go along way--kind of like roasted chestnuts--I liked them but you have to try them yourself to see if they are up your alley and yes, keep a toothpick handy cause skin will get caught in your teeth--such are the joys of popped corn thingys. There was also a small side serving of pickled purple onions which I really liked--sweet yet tangy--it was a pleasant compliment to the deep fried-ness of the rest of the basket. The sauces were a dense tartar sauce, almost like a remoulade, a green chili sauce with a real kick, so be careful and ketchup. The basket is $12 which may seem pricey but you get a lot here and it's really in line with prices of calamari appetizers you get at restaurants around town.
It's a totally family run operation and as far as I could tell has no social media attached--no website, no Facebook, no Twitter, etc. Meaning if you want to check them out or follow you'd need to look up the StrEat Food parks webpage to see if they are there. This is a word of mouth kind of place and while I'm sure the word has been out for awhile I'm just going to add to it and say if you see them give them a try. You'll get a little taste of Peru without breaking your budget and maybe a little sense memory of your time spent there like I did.