C’mon y’all, how am I going to become an expert on Peruvian if I don’t try ALL of them? 🙂 As someone who has a relatively good idea of many of the high-end establishments in the city, I’m going to admit that Inka slipped under the radar for me. While I love the property (Sofitel Downtown) and genuinely enjoyed the meal I had at Wakame, Inka was not on my list of places to visit. A friend recently asked for my opinion of the venue, which prompted my visit.
As the set menu (advertised on their site) wasn’t available (apparently Inka is undergoing a bit of an update on their dishes, so don’t be surprised if some items are currently unavailable), we went forward to sample a number of dishes off both the hot and cold starters, along with main dishes.
Let’s start with the good, shall we?
The Honey coated Baby Squid (AED 61) was, while reminiscent of Orange Chicken from Panda Express (I promise this is a compliment), was absolutely delicious — sweet, sticky, and with a little bit of crunch — it also ran cold quite quickly. The kitchen might want to look into serving it on a plate that retains heat a bit more (and yes, I did account for taking pictures).
We also enjoyed the Tuna Tataki & truffle ponzu sauce (AED 62), although the toasted seaweed on top was of a texture that Hubs described as something weirdly crunchy (and horribly specific).
The cocktail menu offered up many fun, creative libations. I also enjoyed the overall design of the restaurant — equal parts Miami night club, along with decent views of Business Bay and SZR, although some white tablecloths would go a long way. The lounge section features better views of the Burj, although not as nice as what’s on offer at nearby Weslodge.
A few things to work on…
For another of the starters, the Duck & Scallops, AED66, while the taste was pleasant enough, I wasn’t entirely sure what these two proteins were doing together. For anyone more aware, is this a traditional Peruvian combo?
We both had issues with our mains — mine was FAR too smoky (honestly, why would you smoke a beautiful piece of black cod, why???). As an optimist, I’ll admit the Black Cod patarashca, AED132, might have something lost in translation on my end. Perhaps I didn’t realize it was going to come in a cloche of smoke (exciting as the presentation was, I don’t think it was the right flavor infusion for a delicate piece of fish). Similarly, Hubs’ Chicken ají de gallina, AED116, while wonderfully cooked, did not deliver as advertised. We fully expected a curry (with sauce, as it was explained in the menu) and what was delivered was more of a shredded chicken salad (which the chicken thighs were placed on top of). Of course, this could easily be in my ignorance of Peruvian cuisine, but I felt it strange to describe a curry and plate something else entirely. As a final note on the mains, they took quite a bit longer to prepare than I thought was necessary. As there were only four seated in the dining room, I wasn’t sure where the delay in the kitchen came from.
Simply too full from the meal (and trying — in vain — to bear the battle of trying to eat a bit better in 2017), we opted out of the dessert…but I’m fairly positive it would include giant corn, which appeared in nearly every dish we ordered.
Overall, many of the dishes simply lacked the heat and brightness I have come to expect with Peruvian cuisine, which added to my disappointment. To improve, my biggest suggestion to the team at Inka would be to go out and sample what others are doing. Not so they can copy, but so they can understand the level of what is being offered.
Would I go back? Sorry, gang. I’m not in a rush. The other Peruvian restaurants (even Aji) are doing better flavors and a far better atmosphere. While the Ladies Night looks to be quite an amazing deal, the foodie in me won’t be returning any time soon.