Being from Peru, Jimmy Arias appreciates the blending of cultures. The cuisine in his home country has been influenced over centuries by the Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Spanish.
Those influences, blended with traditional Peruvian spices and recipes, are what’s on the menu at his restaurant, InkaWasi, located at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch.
For example, when making ceviche, rather than marinating raw fish in citrus juice for at least a day, it can be done in just a few minutes, as the Japanese do. And the chifa — fried rice and noodle dishes — on the menu are inspired by Chinese cooking.
“Peruvian food is a mix of a lot of cultures,” Arias said.
InkaWasi opened July 29 at Main Street in the space formerly occupied by Pastries by Design next to Healthy Living Organic and Natural Market. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and serves lunch and dinner.
With French, Mexican, Italian and other options already on Main Street, Arias said he felt that adding Peruvian cuisine would further enhance the dining scene there.
“He feels like people in this area are open to trying different foods from different cultures,” said Arias’ son, Kleyver Zamora.
To create a menu for InkaWasi, Arias made a list of Peru’s most well-known dishes. He also added “las parrillas inka,” grilled items.
“Everything is made from scratch using authentic spices from Peru,” Arias said.
One of the Peruvian favorites is lomo saltado, flamed beef with red onions and tomatoes over rice and served with french fries. There is also fresh red snapper, ceviche, shrimp chowder (called chupe de camarones), empanadas, fried calamari, fried yucca and a Peruvian pesto pasta.
The restaurant sells Peruvian wines and craft beer as well as the country’s famous Inca Kola soda.
InkaWasi was open for three years in a plaza off Fruitville Road near Honore Avenue but closed there in April after the landlord decided to sell the property. Arias began looking for a new home for his business.
“We really like this area,” Arias said of why he chose Lakewood Ranch. “There’s a lot of people walking around here.”
Before opening a restaurant, Arias and his wife, Reina Kozlowski, had their own cleaning business. Arias said he and Kozlowski were always in the kitchen when friends and family came over, so opening a restaurant seemed like a natural fit. Additionally, Arias’ mother, Anna Quiliche, has her own restaurant in Barranco, Peru.