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Sunday, December 15, 2013

El Amigo, Forest Lodge

Antichuchos ox heart skewers with potatoes, corn and huacatay chilli

Everyone loves meat on sticks but let's take it next level -  how about heart on a skewer? The Peruvians have been doing it for centuries, a dish called anticuchos that uses secondary cuts threaded onto skewers and grilled.

If you're not into hearts, there are plenty of other Peruvian delicacies to get into at El Amigo, a blink-you'll-miss-it family-run restaurant in Forest Lodge-slash-Glebe. There's the classic Peruvian ceviche ($18), chunks of fish cooked in lime juice; homemade beef empanadas ($4.50); and lomo saltado ($14), strips of beef stir-fried with tomato, onion and fried potatoes served with a side of rice.

El Amigo Peruvian cuisine menu
El Amigo menu board

There's a little bit of something for everyone in this tiny cafe/restaurant. Burgers, steak sandwiches and chicken schnitzels cater for non-adventurous locals but the bulk of the menu is deliciously Peruvian.

The sign above the door reads "Mi Casa Est Tu Casa" or "my house is your house" and the casual relaxed vibe runs from the tables decked with traditional fabrics to the smiling women rolling empanada dough in the kitchen out the back. There's a constant flow of South Americans through the door too, all greeted like dear friends, so it really does feel like you've stumbled into someone's living room.

Pisco sour
Pisco sour

The pisco sour isn't on the regular menu (it's usually only made during special events or dinners) but if you ask nicely they might just comply. It's undertaken with meticulous seriousness and involves several minutes of vigorous cocktail shaking.

And really, it's one of the best pisco sours we've had, light and foamy from the egg white with a refreshing yet gutsy undertone of Peruvian pisco, lime juice and sugar syrup.

Cancha salada toasted Peruvian corn
Cancha salada toasted Peruvian corn $6

Drinks need snacks, and we're excited to find cancha salada on the menu. This popular Peruvian snack uses a special type of corn, maiz chulpe, that doesn't bloom into fluffy popcorn even when toasted. Instead the kernels become airy but retain their shape. They're like a lighter fluffier version of corn nuts, and incredibly addictive.

Inca Kola - the golden kola
Inca kola $3

They're out of sweet purple corn juice on the day we visit, but Inca kola is just as intriguing. It's somewhat disturbingly yellow in colour and it tastes nothing like the cola we know. Inca Kola actually uses lemon verbena as its key ingredient but it's hard to detect much of this. We find it tastes more like creaming soda.

Chicken tamal
Chicken tamal $8

We went with the chicken tamal, served out of its banana leaf wrapping, and garnished with a salsa of red onion and mint. The cornmeal parcel is warm and comforting, filled with shredded chicken, egg and olives.

Antichuchos ox heart skewers with potatoes, corn and huacatay chilli
Anticuchos $15
Marinated ox heart served with potatoes, corn and huacatay chilli

I went straight for the ox heart of course, and the meat is surprisingly tender. The heart has been marinated in vinegar and spices, then cooked ever so briefly on the grill so the meat is still soft yet smoky. The saucer of huacatay chilli provides acidic balance against the strong flavour of the meat, but I'm a fan of this dish, and would definitely order it again.

Tres leches three milk cake
Tres leches three milk cake 

Desserts vary according to what's in the display cabinet, but we're in luck with a serve of tres leches three milk cake, a classic dessert popular across Mexico, Central America and South America. The sponge cake is soaked in three types of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream, and we relish the cake's saturated sponginess, oozing with dairy bliss.

Peruvian espresso and deep passion blend espresso
Peruvian light roast $3.40 
and Deep Passion blend dark roast $3.20

They take their coffee seriously here too, using single origin beans from Peru and Mexico. We went with espresso shots of their Peruvian light roast and their Deep Passion Blend, a dark roast that is rich, nutty and aromatic.

El Amigo have just started opening for dinner too. Get down there on Wednesday and Thursday nights for a little Peruvian love - eating of hearts not required.

El Amigo Peruvian restaurant, Glebe

View Larger Map
El Amigo on Urbanspoon

El Amigo
35E Ross Street, Forest Lodge, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0)402 938 007

Opening hours:
Monday 9am - 3.30pm
Tuesday closed
Wednesday and Thursday 9am - 3.30pm then 6pm - 9pm
Friday 9am - 3.30pm
Sunday 12pm - 8pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Peruvian - La Parrillada, Petersham
Peruvian - Misky Cravings, Fairfield

Forest Lodge - In the Annex
Glebe - Badde Manors
Glebe - Flying Fajita Sisters
Glebe - La Banette Patisserie
Glebe - Tommy's Beer Cafe
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/15/2013 09:15:00 pm


  • At 12/15/2013 9:27 pm, Anonymous Cara @ Gourmet Chick said…

    You had me at meat on sticks - want!

  • At 12/15/2013 11:44 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    mmm i want the tres leches cake!

  • At 12/16/2013 7:19 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    That ox heart on skewers looks beautiful but sometimes beautiful women make my own heart feel like it's on a skewer.

  • At 12/16/2013 7:25 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    The first time I had chicken heart was on a skewer at my Brazilian neighbour's Christmas party. They didn't tell me what it was until I ate it. I remember: delicious but a bit chewy. CANCHA SALADA that sounds like my jam.

  • At 12/16/2013 7:32 am, Blogger Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    this is the first place i've seen tres leche on a dessert menu here!

  • At 12/16/2013 9:18 am, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    I didn't know they were doing dinner, thanks for the tip.

  • At 12/16/2013 10:00 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Wow, the ox heart sounds pretty amazing! Only just starting to see it on menus around town

  • At 12/16/2013 11:26 am, Anonymous Isaac (@iFat23) said…

    A lot of girls have already tried my heart on a skewer.


    Great post as per usual!

  • At 12/16/2013 12:55 pm, Anonymous Lucy said…

    Wow I'd love to try that ox heart. This is close to me so I'm keen to try soon!

  • At 12/16/2013 7:12 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    I always seen this place when I went I go to Doy Tao...next time I've venture next door for some skewers (sans heart).

  • At 12/16/2013 10:46 pm, Anonymous Trent @ Food Assault said…

    It's definitely not something I would think to order, with that said, what does heart taste like? Is it a strong flavour?

  • At 12/17/2013 10:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this gives 'eat your heart out' a new meaning haha.. but that smoky charred meat looks absolutely delicious

  • At 12/17/2013 2:24 pm, Anonymous Grace said…

    This place looks great, i love how unassuming it looks from the outside. I've recently been doing some research on Latin American food and everything you've described aligns perfectly with what I've learned about authentic traditional food which is refreshing. The three milk cake looks amazing!

  • At 12/17/2013 11:04 pm, Blogger MAB vs Food said…

    Want the ox hearts!

  • At 12/18/2013 10:09 am, Anonymous Daisy@Nevertoosweet said…

    I'm not quite sure I'm ready for the ox heart yet...but I'm definitely ready for the Tres leches three milk cake gimme that now :P

  • At 12/18/2013 6:26 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    That looks like a fun and casual restaurant! The heart looks awesome - I'm not one for offal, but I'd give it a try!

  • At 12/19/2013 1:28 pm, Anonymous JJ - 84thand3rd said…

    I loved the food in Peru - although Inca Cola has to be one of the worst drinks on earth ;D This little place sounds lovely!

  • At 12/19/2013 8:24 pm, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    Mmm, gotta love tres leches cake!

  • At 12/19/2013 10:57 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Looks like a serious adventure for serious foodies! I love ceviche and all those fresh & zesty lime flavours! I have tried ox heart (in butchery class at Tafe,) but I don't know I'd go there again. Having said that, I had kidneys, sweetbreads, brains and other organs during that very same offal taste test!

    I'm dying to try the tres leche cake too, love that milky ooze, exactly as you describe it!

  • At 12/21/2013 4:17 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    I love the saying "My house is your house" what a lovely feeling it gives a restaurant. The food looks so interesting too! the cervice on the menu probably would have been one of my many choices :)
    Great story.


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