Lima, Perú is now home to some world class restaurants and is know as the dining destination in South America. My visit to the country was a little less posh though, and most of the deliciousness remembered came from the street. Anticuchos and picarones filled my evenings with magic, as I made good friends and was taken to the best spots.
These memories made hearing about the Lomo Truck so exciting, hearty Peruvian cooking straight into the styrofoam container on the streets of Paterson, NJ. Finding the location is quite easy, despite the residential address given. Their truck is painted completely with a Peruvian flag on the side that faces the street, with imagery from the famous Nazca lines as well. From the sidewalk where you order, there is a table and some chairs. Most people come and grab take away, workers from Main Street in Paterson and beyond.
On the first visit, an order of lomo saltado ($10, below) is inevitable. One of Peru's most popular dishes, lomo actually derived from Peruvian Chinese food, known as chifa. Today it is cooked in almost every household, with each chef having their own secret recipe.
In any recipe, the beef must be good, but the real secret ingredient? Fries, mixed right in. This order comes with a healthy portion of white rice and not much juice. We devoured it with pleasure. Served on the side, and barely visible at the bottom of the above photo is the green aji salsa which allows for some serious heat to be trotted out. Proceed with caution.
Possibly the only disappointment of the meal was the huancaina sauce, usually a favorite. The papa a la huancaina ($4, below) was just a bit unmemorable, so we spiced it up with the aji.
The empanadas are both worth ordering, $1.50 for beef (above, left), and $2 for aji de gallina (above, right). The beef is the most typical type you might find in Perú, shown below with a bite taken. The spicing is nice, and the dough well-fried.
More peculiar, at least to me, was the splendid aji de gallina version, shown below. Usually this mildly spicy chicken stew dish is found served next to rice, this is the first time I have seen it inside of an empanada. Searching online shows that this is more common than I knew though, and kind of fantastic.
Both empanadas take the aji salsa perfectly as well if that is your thing. Further down the handwritten menu if you have extra stomachs with you is a variety of dishes, including more Chinese-influenced dishes like chaufa, a Peruvian fried rice. To make lunch easier for patrons eating on the go, they put ingredients into sandwiches and wraps that you normally would not see but make perfect sense.
With friendly service and obvious regulars, the truck is already a fixture on the street and in the neighborhood. Paterson is known for great Peruvian food north of Interstate 80 and downtown, but this truck expands the range south. It is hard not to pick one of Paterson's excellent Middle Eastern restaurants when in this area, but this truck is definitely making decisions harder.