First Look: Limon Rotisserie in Kapolei
The vibrant Peruvian cuisine of this new restaurant is my new reason to head west.
Limon Rotisserie, which opened in Kapolei last November, is known for its rotisserie chicken.
Photos: Catherine Toth Fox
There aren’t many reasons I drive out to Kapolei these days.
But Limon Rotisserie has changed that.
Opened in November 2017 in Ka Makana Ali‘i, this San Francisco-based, Peruvian-inspired chain offers interesting dishes I haven’t had anywhere else. Wok stir-fried beef tenderloin tossed with onions, tomatoes and crispy french fries; grilled beef tongue topped with house-made chimichurri—we all need more chimichurri in our lives; and crispy chicken spiced with a chili pepper often used in Peruvian recipes.
Owner and executive chef Martin Castillo created Limon’s modern take on Peruvian food back in 2002, starting the restaurant in the Mission with his brothers Antonio and Eduardo. The company, which operates five eateries including the one in Kapolei and a sixth to open soon in the San Francisco International Airport, is still family run.
The heart of the menu—and easily one of the best items—is the rotisserie chicken. The el poll a la brasa, as it’s called on the menu, is marinated then cooked on an open flame. You can get a whole 3-pound bird, cut into eight pieces ($28.95); a half chicken ($18.95) or a quarter of a chicken with either dark ($12.95) or white ($13.95) meat. The meat is so juicy it practically slipping off the bones. You won’t mind the oil dripping down your hands, trust me.
All portions of the chicken come with aji amarillo huacatay (a chili pepper and sort of mint combo sauce) with your choice of two sides. We loved the green beans stir-fried in garlic and yuca fries. (A word about yuca: This is the starchy edible root of the cassava plant and used in much in the same way as potatoes in South America—not to be confused with the yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub.)
The empanadas ($8.95 for two) are tasty, hearty starters, filled with your choice of hand-cut top sirloin, shredded rotisserie chicken, Oaxaca cheese or a combination of mushrooms, spinach, choclo (a large-kernel corn grown in the Andes Mountains) and Oaxaca cheese. It’s the crust on these—flaky, crunchy—that really makes the dish.
The ceviche is worth noting. Unlike traditional ceviche, in which the fish is cubed, Peruvian style is cut like sashimi, a nod to the Japanese influence in Peru.
I loved the lomo saltado ($19.95), which combines a few of my favorite things: filet mignon, ginger-soy sauce and french fries, all in one dish. This traditional Peruvian favorite is a stir-fry of beef medallions, onions, tomatoes and fries, with jasmine rice on the side. A common complaint is that the fries are soggy, which they are. But still, I loved the mix.
Who Wouldn’t love French fries as part of a stir fry?
The ensalada rusa, a classic Peruvian salad, with chunks of beets, carrots and potatoes—perfect with a pisco sour.
A must-try, especially if you’re a fan of beets, is the ensalada rusa ($9.95), a mix of red beets, baby Yukon potatoes, carrots, choclo and peas tossed in an aji amarillo aioli. Though the chunks of veggies are cooked (not raw), the salad is served cold, which makes this refreshing and filling at the same time.
The dessert menu consists of Lapperts ice cream, crème brûlée with seasonal fruit, the Chocolate Bandido with Kaua‘i Pie ice cream and caramel and, my favorite, chocolate-lucuma bread pudding, with lucuma-crème anglaise, fresh whipped cream and toasted mac nuts. (Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit with a flavor similar to maple syrup or butterscotch. Hard to explain.) All desserts are $10.
Don’t miss the drinks, either. Known for its pisco sours—pisco is practically the national spirit of Peru—the restaurant’s signature cocktail doesn’t disappoint. We tried the liliko‘i sour ($12), with passion fruit, fresh citrus, house-made syrup, Peychaud’s bitters and a dash of egg whites to make it frothy. The menu also features a delicious house sangria ($6 a glass, $35 a pitcher); a specialty margarita ($12 a glass, $40 a pitcher); a nice array of beers, wines and cocktails; and a few nonalcoholic drinks. The restaurant does happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with discounts on pisco sour, Limon Punch, margaritas and the house sangria. (It also features a food menu with plates of shrimp cocktail, ribs and poke for $9.95.)
If you ever needed a reason to drive to Kapolei, this is it.
91-5431 Kapolei Parkway, #501, Kapolei, (808) 670-2646, limonrotisserie.com