Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tomkat - Lomo Saltado

It was a beautiful sunny day today, and despite the fight between two homeless people at the UN Plaza, it was an enjoyable time at Off the Grid. It took me just one glance at the menu board of Tomkat to know that I wanted to try their Lomo Saltado. Peruvian food at an Asian food truck? I wanted to see what their twist on this classic Peruvian dish was.

Chifa is a term in Peru that commonly refers to a Chinese style of cooking but with the substitution of native Peruvian ingredients instead of the ones originally used in China. One of the most popular types of cuisine in Peru, it gets its origin from Chinese immigrants who settled in the country in the early 20th century, most notably in the capital of Lima. Since Peruvian chifa lacks authentic Chinese ingredients, it has a very unique taste, due to the incorporation of Peruvian ingredients and Latin American influences. Lomo Saltado is a typical chifa dish enjoyed by Peruvians regardless of ethnicity.

Typical Lomo Saltado is comprised of thin strips of beef that have been marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, and spices and then stir fried together with slices of red onions, tomatoes and parsley. It is served tossed with french fried potatoes over white rice. My in-laws are Chinese born in Peru, and for a while I would always order Lomo from every Peruvian restaurant we visited, if I couldn't convince my mother-in-law to make it for me. It's one of my favorite Peruvian dishes.

So that brings us to Tomkat's Lomo Saltado and how we have an Asian food truck dishing out Asian-inspired Peruvian-Asian-influenced food. Kind of confusing, isn't it? It's definitely not like any Lomo that I have had before, but it works!

Tomkat serves up their Asian remixed Lomo Saltado over Ramen-style noodles instead of rice, and the noodles are tasty! Instead of adding actual tomatoes to the dish, the noodles have a tomato flavor, which was a nice twist. The strips of beef were super tender and extremely flavorful - not jerky or tough in the least. The fried potato wedges sprinkled with sea salt were crispy on the outside yet creamy on the inside, and the dish was topped with cilantro and chopped cucumber. The cilantro was a great finish, really adding to this dish's many layers. And to give the Lomo the kick that it normally would get from aji, little pieces of green jalapeno peppers were buried in the noodles. It was complex, yet simple at the same time because I could taste each of the individual flavors. Wonderful!

All in all I was extremely pleased with my meal today. Tomkat managed to take a traditional dish and put their spin on it, in a unique way that really worked. They combined all the right elements to make this a dish worth recommending and eating again and again. Good job!

Rating: 4.5/5 (ratings guide)

Tomkat (@tomkatsf) $7.00 per dish

Does reading this make you want to try this vendor? Tell them that you saw them at I Left My Cart in San Francisco and support San Francisco street cuisine!

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