Roll With It: Peruvian Street Food from El Gallo in Kaka‘ako
Grilled beef kebobs, chewy butternut squash doughnuts and other Peruvian fare have arrived in the urban core.
Roll With It is a Frolic series about food trucks we’ve seen out and about. We’re tracking them down and trying dishes to bring you the 4-1-1.
With food costs soaring along with just about everything else essential for living, mobile food is beginning to mark another shift on O‘ahu. What’s exciting is that the food trucks and trailers we’re seeing this time around aren’t hawking loco moco, chicken katsu and garlic ‘ahi plates. There’s different fare to be had and in the case of El Gallo in Kaka‘ako, it’s Peruvian. Chef-owner Miguel Gutierrez cooks from his heritage: Grilled beef kebobs, fragrant fried rice and chewy butternut squash donuts—all so good, you might question that it actually came from a food truck.
At a glance:
The menu is succinct with two entrées, empanadas, two desserts and a few drinks. Entrées are beef-centric and include a seasoned or fried rice as the starch. Both desserts are vegan, and the mazzamora purple corn pudding ($5) is also gluten-free. You won’t find Peru’s ubiquitous rotisserie chicken or ceviche here, which makes El Gallo stand out among Hawai‘i’s other Peruvian options.
Antichuchos, $18. Two skewers of beef, marinated overnight with ají panca, which Gutierrez says is Peru’s answer to the smoky chipotle, with more marinade added as it’s char-grilled to order. Traditionally, antichuchos are made with beef heart, but steak is a common substitute. A thick drizzle of green ají huacatay, a bright herbal and creamy sauce made with Peruvian mint, garlic, scallions, cilantro and oil, highlights the tender beef. Huacatay is a staple in Peruvian households and often accompanies rotisserie chicken or barbecued meat.
Hawaiian juane, $12. A Peruvian lau lau filled with golden turmeric- and cumin-seasoned rice, pieces of beef, boiled eggs, and olives wrapped with kalo leaves and steamed. You’ll find juane served in restaurants and by street vendors but it is most commonly eaten during the Feast of San Juan holiday on June 24. Gutierrez’s juane is comforting and rather substantial for such a cute package.
Picarones, $6.50. Another Peruvian street food, picarones are made from a dough that contains butternut squash. The squash acts as an egg substitute and gives the donuts a lighter texture with a bouncy, glutinous interior and a crisp exterior. Gutierrez glazes his picarones with fig syrup for a mildly sweet finish.
How it rolls:
Where: Mother Waldron Neighborhood Park, corner of Cooke and Pohukaina streets
When: Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or sellout
Payment: Cash or credit card