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. The 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.