Los Angeles, CA 90007
Mo-Chica is the brain child of Ricardo Zarate and Mario Orellana. Between the two of them, they’ve completed stints at Zu Robata, Tetsuya (London, not Sydney), and Gjelina. Together, they have devised an ingenious experience , that doesn’t stop at the menu. Mo-Chica is located in Mercado La Poloma near USC's ghetto, not to save on cost, but to transport you to a third world country. Short of a passport and the language barrier, I was in Peru. It also helps in lowering diners’ expectations.
$2 Chicha Morada (2)
A blue corn based drink with chucks of pineapple. I found this more of an acquired taste and rather bland. It’s worth a try, but I’d stick to water on my next trip.
$4 Causa (Peruvian potato salad) Del Dia, (2)
A creamy crab mixture topped with mashed sweet potatoes and garnished with bell pepper chuck and aji sauce. Other reviews I've read spoke positively about this dish. To me, it was too dry. The mayonnaise overwhelmed the crab meat and was reminiscent of a diner crab salad.
$5 Ceviche of the day (5)
Seabass ceviche soiled in leche de tigre (lime, celery heart, cilantro, chile, and ginger). I found the marinade too strong and spicy, but it was slightly saved by the roasted corn kernels. I would still recommend getting a ceviche since it’s unique.
$15 Sea Urchin and Sea Bass Ceviche (6)
This style of ceviche is new to me, so I had to order another. Unfortunately, it was a replica of the previous dish with the addition of uni. It’s common knowledge that bacon makes everything better. I get the same feeling from uni. One day, I’d like to see a chef take the risk and combine the two.
$13 Arroz Con Mariscos (7)
I didn't fully appreciate this dish until I had the leftovers the next day. The seasoning that bound the rice to the seafood had a down home rustic flavor. I had to remind myself that it was just rice. It's served with a side spinach salad and roasted bell peppers.
$13 Seco de Cordero (10)
Lamb shank, cilantro beer stew, roasted potatoes (out of beans), salsa criolla
The best lamb shank I have had, period. So fall-off-the-bone tender, I have to include a video to do it justice. And the stew had a succulent earthy flavor that just grasped onto every inch of the dish. The crisp potatoes absorbing the rendering stew was the final complement, I couldn't see the beans being better. I'll try to get the LA Times to do a Culinary S.O.S.
Be sure to sample the three complimentary sauces: two types of aji sauces and huacatay. The red aji will develop sweat bubbles on your forehead; my favorite was the huacatay.
The night began slow with the appetizers and the repetitive accents to each dish, but the entrees were just amazing. At this cost, it's a must try anytime you're near downtown.