After trying to get several of my less adventurous friends to go with me to the Aji Peruvian Restaurant at 9413 Apison Pike, I finally coerced my friend, Dan, into going – and I didn’t even have to twist his arm. He was as anxious as I. Some people just don’t want to jump out of their comfort box.
Dan and I hopped into his car and took off for Collegedale during our lunch break to visit the restaurant named for a Peruvian chili pepper. We were surprised they were so crowded – obviously a lot of people like their food. We settled into a booth and were given menus. There was so much to choose from and choices were so varied.
We decided not to order an appetizer, even though several sounded tempting – Empanadas A Horno gives you five stuffed pastries filled with a choice of chicken, three cheese and spinach or tofu and spinach; or maybe a Papa Rellena (freshly made potato croquette filled with diced steak or vegetarian meat, raisins, and olives and fried until golden, served with salsa criolla). Prices range from $3.95 to $5.95.
Dan ordered the Tacu Tacu ($8.95), which is a rice and pinto bean patty topped with pan-fried steak (or chicken breast) seasoned with Aji Amarillo; served with salsa criolla. He thought it was great. The rice and bean patty was definitely interesting looking and was crispy on the outside. He seemed to enjoy it so much, I might have to order it next time.
I ordered the Combo #2 platter ($7.95). I went there with the intention of trying the Rotisserie Chicken and this particular order was ½ chicken served with yellow rice (although mine arrived with white rice and no mention was made as to why), pinto beans, sweet plantains and a fountain drink. The chicken was delicious. It was so moist and tender. Of course, I ate less than half, so had chicken for dinner as well.
While we were waiting for our orders, the server brought a little dish of what appeared to be corn kernels for us to snack on. We asked how they were prepared without “popping”. She said they covered them in a frying pan and tossed them around. I know, not very scientific, but they were quite tasty. With our meal, she offered us a serving of their hot sauce. I tried a small taste, and for me it was too hot, but for Dan, it must have been just right because he made it disappear rather quickly.
In addition to entrees, there is a list of salads and sandwiches (served with fries), fish, vegetarian meals, and a kids menu priced at $5. Beverages include Inca Kola, and fresh juices (such as Tamarind), and smoothie blends. For dessert there is Alfajores (shortbread cookie with dulce de leche), flan, Torta de Chocolate, and Torta Helada (molded chiffon with layers of angel food cake and fresh fruit).
Dan and I both enjoyed Aji and said we must make a return visit to try other items on the menu.
Hours for Aji Peruvian Restaurant are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. They are closed on Saturday.
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