Ana Maria Montoya Kishihara first landed on American soil in the early 1980s, bringing along her two young children, the traditional Peruvian recipes of her mother and grandmother, and a dream to start her own restaurant. She opened up Inka Grill in 1996, stocking its kitchen with fresh ingredients and setting up a wood-fired rotisserie to roast juicy Peruvian chicken dishes. Today, Ana’s daughter has taken over the family business, whipping up the authentic the Criolla recipes passed down from the three generations of women before her.
Amid the smoky rotisserie and bubbling pots of stew in the Inka Grill kitchen, chefs whip up fresh fish ceviches, savory steak stir-fry saltados, and flavorful seafood paellas. They pair heaping scoops of rice and beans with their rotisserie chicken, a poultry that reporters from Orange County Weekly lauded as “so juicy from tail to sternum you can barely tell the dark from the white.” Servers tote sizzling platters to the dining room, where vivid paintings of Peruvian children adorn the walls and a soft flute plays traditional Peruvian songs, i.e., Wham! covers. The staff pours glasses of the traditional chicha morada corn drink and presents cans of imported Inca Kola to quench the spice of their ultra-spicy green aji sauce, which the chefs have lightheartedly dubbed “Gringo Killer”.
The spit-masters at Texas Pit Bar-B-Que bring a taste of backyard Texas cooking to California, delivering hearty barbecue to the eatery’s tables or directly to doorsteps. Their macaroni salad, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw accompany sauce-slathered helpings of St. Louis–style ribs, tri-tip sandwiches, and whole or pulled chicken. A sampler platter gives customers a little taste of everything, like a movie that features one scene from all the movies of ever. The staff also grants deli sandwiches a spot on the menu, with soft bread cushioning turkey and swiss or pastrami. Cooks pack up takeout or delivery meals for groups as small as 3 and as big as 25; they also can provide onsite barbecuing of pork and the like at picnics.
Black-and-white photographs provide a stark contrast to Tasty Thai's bright fuchsia walls. The chefs strive to strike this same balance between bold flavors and delicate accents in their traditional Thai dishes. Accents of pineapple, lemongrass, and coconut milk appear in pan-fried noodles and fried rice. For many dishes, guests can choose from a host of proteins, such as chicken, shrimp, and tofu, then select a spice level, which, like lists of your favorite fingers, is on a scale of 1 to 10.
Bhan Baitong's menu boasts a few Chinese dishes, such as chow mein and fried wonton. But the restaurant mostly sticks with Thai classics: tom yum soup, spicy fried rice, red curry with chicken. Some come with fun names, including the crying tiger, a medley of greens with charbroiled beef and chili lime sauce. Ditto on the disco shrimp salad, whose succulent grilled shrimp are tossed with lemongrass and carrot rather than leftover glitter from KC and the Sunshine Band's last tour.
Seafood stands out among the culinary team's specialties, whether in the form of deep-fried trout coated with green-apple relish or fried rice tossed with scallop, crab claw, squid, and shrimp. Each artfully plated dish adds bursts of color to a cozy dining room of textured white walls, black furnishings, and green napkins.
Squares Deli's founders—a family of athletes—understand the importance of good-for-you food that tastes good, too. By serving grain-fed, free-range deli meats free of GMOs, preservatives, additives, and hormones, they ensure their menu keeps bodies healthy. By populating their menu with spicy chipotle-chicken pizzas, soups made with hearty whiskey barbecue broths, and Thai peanut crunch wraps, they keep diners coming back for more. They also make dishes with ingredients harvested from local organic famers whenever possible, and they make their bread fresh each day.
QS Deli ensures people don?t go hungry from early morning to evening. Breakfast begins at 8 a.m. sharp, and chefs mix mushrooms and spinach into omelets, pop scones into the oven, and stack ham,eggs, and cheese on bagel sandwiches. Later in the day, layers of meats and veggies create flavorful sandwiches, and personal pizza crusts tuck under a blanket of cheese. Chefs make a number of items gluten-free for individuals with a gluten allergy or phobia. They also supersize meals for catered parties that serve up to 500 guests.