El Pollon: Peruvian Shady Restaurant of the Month

by | September 3, 2009 | 16 Comments

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Naylamp

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2106 SW 44th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73119
405-601-2629
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Please note: the name of this restaurant has changed to Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant since this review was published.

Editor’s note: this month’s shady restaurant feature is a special contribution from Chef Ryan Parrott. Chef Parrott is a leading chef and restauranteur in Oklahoma City and we’re delighted to have his contribution here. For more about Chef Parrott, please see his author page.

Exterior of Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant in Oklahoma City

As a chef, I am constantly searching for the next great meal, combing the planet for a new flavor, new technique or new ingredient. As of late, I have found more enjoyment seeking out the little, out of the way, family owned ethnic places — the ones that are truly displaying and sharing their culture the best way they know how — through their food.

Recently I was directed to El Pollon by a close friend. He casually told me about a nice little Peruvian Restaurant at SW 44th and Penn. Being a northsider, I find myself, at times, not really getting out my “bubble,” so I had no idea that this place existed.

Upon entering, I was warmly greeted and directed to the rest of my group. This was nice but unnecessary as they weren’t hard to spot in this very small, 35-seat dining room. The décor is unassuming, with generic tables and chairs — think 1970’s era Pizza Hut, but renovated and updated. The walls are adorned with cheesy, Peruvian-style rugs, wall hangings, and a large flat screen that plays old Peruvian variety show DVDs. There appears to be one server that takes care of the entire dining room, and on my several visits, it has been more than adequate. The menu verbage is very easy to read, offering detailed descriptions of each dish in clear English. Sometimes I find that true ethnic restaurants have a hard time conveying the dishes to those not versed in their culture or language, but this is not the case at El Pollon.

First off, the beverages. They offer the standard lineup of sodas and iced teas, but if you order one of these you are missing out on a great part of the experience. Instead, try a canned Peruvian soda called Inca Kola ($2). This popular soda is sweet with a bubble gum flavor and a cream soda finish. Another option is the Chicha Morada ($2.99), which is made from purple corn. It’s reminiscent of clove and pineapple, with some sweet earthiness of corn mixed in. This drink is quite refreshing, and pairs well with most of the flavors in the dishes I have had there.

Now, onto the food. The selection is pretty good, with several different offerings and even a lunch menu. Although there are several main characters in the plot of this menu, the star of the show, though not but by much, is the rotisserie chicken. The manner in which they prepare it is exceptional. As a chef, I certainly won’t be giving a standing ovation to a simple, ordinary bird very often, but this one truly deserves a repeat performance. Seasoned to perfection and slow roasted, the skin is perfectly golden brown, with meat left tender and juicy on the inside. Ask first if it’s available, as they seem to have issues keeping up with the demand on this item.

The wonderful supporting cast of menu items are certainly nothing to shy away from. One of my favorites, although I haven’t encountered anything yet I didn’t love, is the Papa Rellana ($4.99). It is perfectly-prepared mashed potatoes enveloping a filing of ground beef, seasonings and raisins. The addition of the fruit in this one really adds a new dimension not regularly found in most American dishes, even the American adaptations of popular Peruvian dishes.

The sauce de Aji — a mixture of roasted peppers, milk, cheese and Peruvian seasonings — repeats itself throughout the menu and can only be described as beautiful. The rich velvety texture and the “slightly sweet at first, slightly spicy finish” is perfect with the not-so-heavy-mouth feel of this sauce.

The Papa a la Huancaina ($4.99) features this sauce over blanched potato slices and garnished with olives and hard-boiled egg. I can promise you that this vegetarian dish will leave even the biggest carnivore a happy diner. The sauce is also used in the Aji de Gallina ($6.99), which combines their rotisserie chicken, walnuts, raisins and more potatoes. This item is listed on their lunch specials and leaves me speechless every time I consume it.

Among the other offerings that we enjoyed are Chicharron de Chancho ($8.99), which combines fried pork loin with a salsa criolla and sweet potatoes; the Bisteck a lo Pobre ($9.99 – their version of steak and eggs) with fried egg, plantains and avocado; and another crowd favorites, the Jalea De Mariscos($10.99), which features deep-fried calamari, mussels, shrimp and fish, and is also served with the salsa criolla and fried yucca.

They do offer desserts, but I have never had the room to try any one of them, so I may have to report back on these at later date.

I have to say that owners Juan and Niel do an impeccable job of making sure their diners are happy. Their food and flavors are to be cherished. They stay true to their heritage and cooking style, and it is very refreshing to experience this heritage as a diner.

El Pollon Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken on UrbanspoonNaylamp Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

More Photos from Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant

Exterior of Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant in Oklahoma CityCausa Limena at Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant in Oklahoma CityLomo Saltado at Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant in Oklahoma CityRotisserie Chicken with green rice and beans at Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant in Oklahoma City

This article was posted by Ryan Parrott on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009. It is filed under:

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  • Kevin says:
    September 4th, 2009 at 6:25 am   

    Sounds yummy. Thanks for the tip.

  • Tim says:
    September 4th, 2009 at 8:54 am   

    I was fortunate to be able to dine here with Chef Parrott and I have to say, it is impressive. Our shady restaurants always have great food, but this place adds great presentation also. The dishes are colorful and beautiful when they come out.

    This place is only borderline shady at best. The main reason it qualifies is because the building it is in is a little run down and very non-descript. You wouldn’t even know it’s a restaurant unless you look closely. Again, shady dining is all about finding places you likely wouldn’t try otherwise and in that sense, El Pollon fits the bill. It’s definitely a hidden jewel.

  • Sheri says:
    September 4th, 2009 at 9:50 am   

    Really, not the least bit shady. But incredibly good food. The first time I went it was with a group of about 10 and we ordered 8-10 dishes and the table just passed all that beautiful food around. THAT’S the way to do it at El Pollon.

  • Ryan says:
    September 4th, 2009 at 11:07 am   

    Sheri, I agree, we always order enough food for the table, and then pass and share everything. All their dishes are so great, I couldnt decide on just one to order

  • Sarah says:
    September 4th, 2009 at 1:43 pm   

    So far, my only experience with Peruvian food has been at Mamaveca’s, in Norman. They’re primarily a Mexican restaurant, but they have a Peruvian menu that you can order from, Wednesdays through Sundays. I’m addicted to their ceviche. It’s truly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

    I’m looking forward to trying out El Pollan now, and broadening my Peruvian horizons. Plus, the rotisserie chicken just sounds incredible.

  • Xander says:
    September 8th, 2009 at 12:00 pm   

    I went to dine there with some co-workers and found their food to be excellent. The rotisserie chicken is just seasoned very nicely. I hope that when people come here they don’t expect their food to be seasoned like Mexican food. Too often I hear people say “Oh, I went to an Argetine,Chilean,Colombian) Restaurant and their food was not spicy enough nothing like the Mexican restaurants. Seasoning and Spices in most other parts of Latin America are not spicy like Mexican food.

    Anyhow, their special peruvian rice is excellent and tastes much like Rice I haven’t had since I was in Costa Rica.It has some vegetables in it and some special seasoning which I could not distinguish but it was really good. Overall it is just a nice restaurant with good service. I am glad to see establishments like these (Cafe Antigua, Cafe do Brasil, Couscous Cafe and El Pollon) which bring new cuisines to the city. I hope someone opens a Colombian restaurant soon. El pollon will not deceive.

  • G- says:
    September 9th, 2009 at 8:31 am   

    Having been to Peru on many occasions,I was delighted to hear about El Pollon. We have found it is very authentic peruvian food and absolutely delicious! I think I could eat there on a daily basis. I highly recommend it.

  • Wimpy says:
    October 10th, 2009 at 6:00 pm   

    My wife and I tried El Pollon fri. great food,very friendly folks, good service, and server even brought a small sample of soup for my wife to try, which she ordered,I had the rot. chicken with rice and beans, everything was delicious!!
    Their is no downside to this place,nothing shady that I could see, just working class okc, with a rich diversity of different cultures which enriches, and adds to the city, I’ll definately be back, I intend to try most of the menu,especially liked the rice, beans were excellent, and the chicken moist and delicious, the sauce de Aji is unique, hands down the best sauce I’ve tasted, could not figure out what it was, other than delish!!

  • Cult of Nobody says:
    March 27th, 2010 at 4:17 pm   

    Finally made it to El Pollon today….. Hands down the best piece of chicken I have ever eaten!

    Moist and flavorful in every bite…. Stands on it’s own without the dipping sauce but I found my self alternating between a bite with and then a bite without sauce.

    Will definitely be going back for more of this chicken!

  • Jeff C says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 3:10 pm   

    Hey, I wanted people to know that the place is still open under a new name – Naylamp Peruvian Restaurant. The original three owners split, hence the closing of the restaurant. One of the three continues the place. The other two each opened their own establishments in the area (Inca Trail on May and the other in Norman? – didn’t quite understand the lady on that one). Ate there last week (Feb 2011).

  • Tim says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 9:56 pm   

    Jeff C., thanks for the updates. I’ve heard the reports of Naylamp but haven’t been yet. We do have a review of Inca Trail (http://www.eataroundokc.com/inca-trail-peruvian-cuisine-for-the-whole-family/) and the other place you are thinking of is Mama Veca’s. They have locations in both Norman and Edmond. Lots of Peruvian options around town now!

  • Raul Ramos says:
    October 31st, 2011 at 6:24 pm   

    This is the first time i read this comments and i just want to say thank you for the preference for Peruvian food, as an ex co-owner of El Pollon, i just to invite everybody to try a bite of peruvian food. At this point we have Niel Zambrano with Incas Trail in the north side and we have the same place here at the 2106 SW 44th. This will be a new experience for your taste we promise you that.!!!!

  • Tim says:
    November 2nd, 2011 at 9:00 am   

    I visited Naylamp for the first time since the reopen a few weeks ago and it was really quite good. While there are a few differences between the former El Pollon and the new Naylamp, I found them to be similar enough that I’m considering this to be mostly a name change. So, I’m reopening this review and associating it with the Naylamp restaurant. I believe the majority of the review and the comments apply to the new restaurant.

    Naylamp’s rotisserie chicken is very tasty. I thought the seasoning’s were just right. I’ve had other Peruvian rotisserie chicken where it was heavily seasoned, maybe a little too heavily so I preferred Naylamp’s. Everything else is fresh and flavorful as well and pricing is great.

    So glad to see Peruvian cuisine still going strong in this location.

  • Stephanie says:
    March 16th, 2012 at 12:21 pm   

    This place is FANTASTIC! My boyfriend and I stopped by here after I read the reviews for this place and we were impressed(to say the very least)…. He had a dish that looked like fajitas with a green sauce that was out of this world. I had a Chicken dish with potatoes covered in a creamy sauce. I couldnt tell you the name of either one of those dishes but they were great! So much so that my boyfriend ordered another one of what he had to take to work with him the next day! NAYLAMPS is a great little local spot! I will definitely be back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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