Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mo-Chica @ 514 W. 7th Street Downtown, Los Angeles

There's a great, energetic, urban vibe in the DTLA with the hustle of the street; sirens honking, trucks barreling down narrow corridors and people moving with a sense of non discriminant urgency.  Here, there's no blatant visual cues that you're in movie land, the streets have that gritty composition, the diversity of people have made me feel ever so comfortable and fit right in it urban anonimity...

And so continues my journey through LA's promising restaurants; this time, I venture into 
Mo-Chica, a Peruvian eatery by Chef Ricardo Zarate, based on Peruvian comfort food with a modern twist.  With the accolades to follow, it was imperative for me to investigate what Peruvian food was all about....

The interior is reminiscent of a loft atmosphere; graffiti artwork covered walls, glass encased open kitchen and thoroughly modern fixtures.. all the usual suspects.  Seated at the communal table in the front, it was awesome to have the elbow room and be near the front facade for optimum people watch while enjoying my repast.  Mo-Chica has the Comida Lunch Special: choice of Main + two Sides + Rice + Dessert for $15 - a good bargain.  I ordered and extra appetizer for good measure (the sides were a Mixed Salad and a Pasta Salad, dessert was a Caramel Flan - Sides were nothing to write home about, Flan was good).

I ordered for my App, the Antichucho de Pulpo: Grilled Octopus + Roasted Potatoes + Jalapeno Sauce.  As my brain has soon surmised, there's a lot of Potato in Peruvian cuisine!!!  I will say this though, it's the best Potatoes that I've ever had, creamy and starchy, it's very satisfying to the senses.  The Octopus was incredibly delicate: soft in texture and contrasting the starch underneath, I loved how the grill flavors the tentacles in its caramelized fashion and its accompaniment- the Jalapeno Sauce, certainly brought in the heat (also another integral component of the Peruvian palate).  By the end, my lips were stinging with that pleasure/pain sensation.


Based on the recommendation from my server, I had the Carapulcra: Peruvian Sun Dried Potato Stew + Crispy Pork Belly + Peanuts + Chimichurri Sauce.  This would be a perfect dish for a cold Northeast Winter day; the piping hot Potato Stew had the hearty robust depth that could warm a corpse (a dish this hot makes me sweat profusely).  I love the flavor, the Peanuts were definitely an undercurrent, but provided the 'oomph' nonetheless...  The Pork Belly was crisp for sure, crackling outer shell had permeated through the thin slices, alas, a little overcooked.  However, they were tasty, especially with the addictive Chimichurri Sauce, so delicious , it would be easy to consume bowls of it (I'm furiously looking online on recipes as I write)....  This dish is copious and rich and halfway through, I had my fill of the Potato Stew....the Carapulcra had won....

Now, before you call me a loser, I forgot to mention the Drink I ordered, the Chica Morada: a Peruvian Purple Corn drink.  A tart, fruity liquid with faint sensation of the maize - it was a beverage that had something to do with my inability to finish what I would normally finish in a lick (or two).

I am eager to come back and taste more dishes that Chef Zarate had to offer- it is a cuisine that is relatively new to my palate and may require a 'gotta be in the mood for it' attitude, but I love new taste combinations and even just for the Chimichurri, it's worth coming in for seconds.

Mo-Chica on UrbanspoonRatings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:           3
Ambience:   2.5
Service:        2