Inside the former Curry House space in Little Tokyo, Triple Threat Truck’s chef Omayra Dakis opens her first restaurant as a culinary tribute to the kioskos along Playa Piñones in Puerto Rico, with a touch of Old San Juan thrown in. Rumba Kitchen, named after the traditional community party filled with music and dance, opens in late August for dinner and weekend brunch.
Dakis made a name for herself in LA with Triple Threat Truck, which opened in 2017 serving its famous tripleta sandwich — a chicken, pork, and steak sandwich wrapped in their homemade pan sobao. She also serves juicy mofongos and fun takes on Puerto Rican classics, like sliders made with tostones. The inspiration for Triple Threat was born out of Dakis’s experience organizing food truck events back in her home state of Florida and here in Los Angeles. At Rumba, she’s working alongside her husband George Dakis and her talented daughter Maria Dakis, who competed on Master Chef Junior and helped to create desserts for the restaurant. Omayra Dakis is a fierce competitor herself, having won Guy’s Grocery Games in 2019. With two food TV contestants under its roof, the Dakis family now wants to take Angelenos on an island tour of the senses, which begins with a board of kiosko standards: frituras (fried foods).
The fritanga board comes with morcilla (blood sausage), tostones de pana (fried breadfruit), alcapurrias (fritters), pastelillos (turnovers), bacalaitos (salt cod fritters), and sorullos (fried cornmeal sticks) for dipping in Puerto Rico’s popular mayoketchup. The restaurant will have a menu of assorted pinchos (skewers), and large cuts like churrasco (steak), lamb chops, and chuleta can-can, grilled then deep-fried tomahawk-cut pork chop with a whole pork belly attached. The tomahawk will make for a crispy, juicy rumba for two.
Other highlights include ensalada de carruchos, a conch salad made with imported shellfish from Florida, and chiofrito, a deep-fried red snapper. All dishes are accompanied by tostones, or maduros, and a choice of delectable Puerto Rican rice favorites like arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) or arroz mamposteao (red beans and rice). “I want to be able to give people the experience of going to Puerto Rico without leaving LA,” Omayra says, “[like] the smell of garlic, sofrito, and live music trios like on the streets of Old San Juan.” The space features a realistic wall mural of La Fortaleza that makes quite the optical illusion.
Rumba Kitchen plans to also offer an expanded selection of mofongo relleno, filled with lobster, pollo guisado (stewed chicken), carne frita (fried pork), and a vegetarian option, prepared for Angeleno diners. “Our mofongo, we do it with a twist. We make it moist because over there it’s more of a side dish, and drier, which is the way I’ve always liked it as well,” Omayra says. Save room for Maria Dakis’s flans, and look for a menu of red, coconut mojito, and passion fruit sangrias, beers, wine, and Dakis’s Puerto Rican-style michelada, made with Puerto Rican lager.
Fans of the Triple Threat Truck can rest assured that the mobile operation will continue on, though food lovers can count themselves lucky that the most ambitious Puerto Rican restaurant perhaps ever to open in Los Angeles is now available to them as well. Frankly, it’s the beach getaway we’ve all been waiting for.
Rumba Kitchen is located at 123 Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Street #204 (located on the 2nd floor inside Weller Court), Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Once it opens in late August, hours will be dinner from Thursday to Sunday, and weekend brunch on Sunday.