Peruvian Jalea Fight: Inka Fest vs Contigo Peru

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Who doesn't love seafood in the summer? Especially if you have a summer love to share it with.

We're pretty sure that same thought crossed the minds of Peruvians when they started serving up Jalea (a seafood platter commonly meant to serve two).

There are several Peruvian places in Mesa that are practically neighbors. Enter our battle of the dishes. Inka Fest versus Contigo Peru. Why Mesa? We can't say. How's the Jalea?

Find out after the jump.

In One Corner: Inka Fest
2909 South Dobson Road #21 Mesa
(480) 831-6000

The Set Up: In great company sharing a strip mall with the likes if Serrano's, Cornish Pasty, Copper Kettle and Pink Pepper, here we had fried fish strips, fried calamari, fried shrimp, and fried oysters topped with salsa criolla served with fried yucca root and tostones (fried plantains). Fried fried fried. Everything Fried. We were greeted with Peruvian corn nuts to munch on before the dish arrived.
Pros: The yucca root tastes like fried parsnips, and was definitely our favorite part; mixed up with the fried fish and shrimp, we would have been fooled into thinking we were eating Peruvian-style fish and chips. We never ventured over to the spicier red sauce but the corners of our mouths were perpetually tingling from the spiciness of the green salsa we were served.
Cons: Over all, the dish is a bit heavy (save for the plantains, which were dry and we wished they had been more fried. Hypocritical?). It's definitely more of hang out dish to be shared with your date during Inka Fest's $2 beer happy hour while watching a soccer game.

In the Other Corner: Contigo Peru 1245 West Guadalupe Road Mesa (480) 383-7378

The Set Up: This is a husband and wife operation with peach colored walls and flags of pride reading "Te Amo Peru". It felt a little odd starting our meal with a cafeteria style dinner roll and individual package of butter, but who are we to judge such a humble offering? This jalea was served with deep fried fish strips topped with salsa criolla, but all of the other seafood dudes were sauteed (read: sauteed crab legs, mussels, calamari and shrimp) garnished with fried yucca root and plantains.
Pros: The sauce was smoky and tangy with a zippy lime flavor. Much more complex than we were expecting and absolutely delicious. We had no need for the green chili sauce sent out as an accompaniment when we could suck that sauce out of each crab leg.
Cons: It's a little pricey at $20 a plate, but completely worth it. We actually wish we had splurged on the purple corn drink (chica morada).

The Verdict: Contigo Peru serves jalea for two but you won't want to share. We noticed it to be the most popular dish ordered through out the restaurant and with good reason.

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