Few things can brighten a dreary day quite like a vibrant, warming meal. At Q’enko, a new Peruvian restaurant opening in Bloomfield, diners will feel both warmed and welcomed after eating the organic, authentic cuisine. Peruvian food and culture offer a distinct experience to diners, and luckily for Bloomfield and the surrounding areas, Q’enko Organic Cuisine located at 68 Washington Street is bringing just that. Montclair Girl sat down with one of the women behind the new spot to learn more about Q’enko.
Behind the Scenes
Co-owners and sisters-in-law Maria Verdezoto and Kathleen Cerano are anything but new to the New Jersey hospitality scene. Both of Maria and Kathleen’s families own Leña y Carbón, which is a popular chain of Peruvian restaurants in Passaic and Union City. Maria also previously owned PositiviTea in Verona until she decided to close the doors in 2018 in search of a bigger space to expand and offer a more expansive vegan menu. It was this search for a new space that landed the pair in Bloomfield.
Kathleen and Maria signed the lease on the Bloomfield space in early 2020, with intentions of opening a vegan eatery. But between the closing of another local beloved Peruvian restaurant, Costanera, and the COVID-19 pandemic, they decided to expand upon their initial idea. The end result is the current Q’enko, which is designed to be an authentic Peruvian restaurant serving meals that are 100% organic. Their goal with this space is to take a different approach to the restaurants the family owns and move the brand to a different level.
Q’enko is a holy place and archaeological site in the sacred valley of Peru that holds the history of the Inca culture. Both Kathleen and Maria felt that there was a lack of the signature bold flavors associated with Peruvian cuisine among local dining options and they are passionate about serving healthy, whole foods to the community.
Maria and Kathleen are most excited about the ambiance in the restaurant, and the quality of the food. When a restaurant commits to being the best, it brings in the experts. The expert in this situation is the executive chef who came directly from Peru to the kitchen at Q’enko.
The menu includes many bright and flavorful dishes such as Tallarines Verde, a pasta with bright green sauce almost like a pesto; Chaufa, a Peruvian take on fried rice; and Jalea, a fried mix of seafood topped with onions. One of Maria’s favorites is the Tallarines a la Huancaina, which is pasta in a yellow sauce made with chiles.
Patrons can also find potatoes and yuca (similar to potatoes) appetizers with the same creamy, delicious sauce in the appetizer section of the menu. Some of our top picks include the ceviche mixto and whole roasted chicken with a side of the aji verde sauce, so yum. Pro tip: there will also be a top-secret menu revealed on social media so keep an eye out!
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Q’enko is planning a large grand opening event this month which will include live entertainment and dinner specials; however, don’t wait to check it out. The restaurant is currently open seven days a week for dine-in customers and offers takeout.
Keep up with Q’enko on social media through its Instagram account.