Is Manos Peruanas Midtown’s First Peruvian Cart?

Ever since sampling the unique and full-flavored lomo saltado taco from Morocho at the Vendy Awards two weeks ago, I’ve hoped that the Rookie of the Year nominee would bring their Peruvian-fusion food to Midtown one day. Although the cart does not seem to want to venture from their regular Union Square location, the next best thing has happened. Midtown has gotten our very own Peruvian food cart.

Thanks to a tip from tweeter @DrinkAwayTime, we learned about Manos Peruanas last week and I went by to sample the goods.┬áThe food here is more straight-forward with its Peruvian roots compared to Morocho’s flavor twists. My knowledge of Peruvian food veers just slightly beyond the edges of ceviche. I used to enjoy some garlicky lomo saltado with heaps of french fries at Rinconcito Peruano on Ninth Avenue in Midtown years ago. Anybody else remember that place?

The lady who runs the cart and seems to do most of the cooking (I’m guessing the name is a reference to her hands) told me they had been parking in Queens for a while on Woodhaven Boulevard right next door to Pio Pio. But now they plan on making the spot on 47th between 6th and 7th a permanent weekday outing. She suggested the Arroz con Pollo and I was also craving some of that grilled beef, so I ordered two meals at $8 each.

The arroz con pollo was served with a generous helping of cilantro rice and topped with crisp red onions. I must admit this chicken was incredibly moist and tender, easily falling away from the bone. For $8 there wasn’t a ton of meat, but it was well-seasoned and flavorful. To me, the rice made the dish with little nuggets of texture from green peas and a nice creamy kick when combined with the aji verde.

I also felt like the lomo saltado was a bit underwhelming in terms of portion size. I expected the styrofoam plate to be bursting at the seams, but it was quite modest. Thankfully, flavor was bursting from the soy sauce-kissed beef slices and onions. It was garlicky, salty, and smoky. The starchy french fries and white rice sopped up any meaty juice that almost got away.

Manos Peruanas is a very welcome addition to the food carts in Midtown. The flavors and quality are certainly there, I think they should just re-think the portion size vs. price. At $6, these dishes would be totally legit. And until Morocho leaves its comfortable hang-out on 14th Street, I’ll be filling my craving right here.
Manos Peruanas Cart, 47th bw 6th and 7th Ave.

4 Comments

  • They need to use shallower styrofoam plates like many of the street meat vendors do. It gives the illusion that there’s a lot of food because the plate is full to the brim. Seeing too much white styrofoam underneath the food always gives me a feeling of being gypped.
    $8 will get me 2 plates of street meat from the Rafiqi’s in front of Bellevue Hospital.

  • I was annoyed by the lack of posted prices, and they are a bit high, but the food so far is fantastic and so far as I can tell totally authentic Peruvian fare.

    Papa a La Huancaina is boiled potatoes in a cheesy, peppery cheese sauce. This is really good comfort food and not the kind of thing one typically finds at a cart.

    I also sampled the Arroz Con Pollo – it’s a great take on the classic, the cilantro arroz a nice herby setting for the beautifully prepared pollo, showered in peppery red onions. Also, it’s a welcome break from the cumin-dominated halal cart chicken (not that I oppose cumin, far from it. It’s just pervasive these days).

    The baked chicken empanada ($3) is fantastic – the filling is spicy and chewy. To me this is everything a baked empanada should be. But two won’t make a lunch.

    Whatever you order, remember to get a ramekin of the cart’s home made hot sauce.

    For my first couple visits I didn’t have the, er, heart to order the grilled skewered veal heart. But now I can’t wait.

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    I had the chicken with rice last week, it was fine, but the bigger piece of chicken was a tad dry. Today, I had the chicken with rice. The chicken had some sand or something in it. Also had a hair in the dish.

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    I had to try this truck today after seeing this article. I was glad I did. I had a beef empanada along with a platter of Lomo Saltado. Very very good food. The empanada was one of the bigger ones I’ve had off of a street vendor. Bigger than the Nuchas Truck, bigger than El Rey Del Sabor…actually come to think of it..might have been outright the biggest empanada I’ve ever had. The Lomo Saltado dish was extremely tasty and filling. My only complaint with this dish is that they should pour on more sauce. This is essentially what gives the dish its flavor. Lomo Saltado is stir fry beef with onions and peppers and I believe it was soy sauce. They toss it over white rice and home made french fries. Very tasty and very filling. It wouldn’t hurt them to add a few more pieces of beef…but overall for only being on the street for a couple of week….it was a great lunch! A few adjustments to the quantities and perhaps posting prices to some of the pictures on their truck and this cart is possibly a contender for a vendy..at least in my opinion.

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