If we had ordered the entire menu it would have come to $101. I know, I counted. We came close – ordered all but two dishes. The waitress did not believe us and kept insisting we did not order things.
We found out about this place through Jonathan Gold and other sources, and it sounded quite special. Plus, a friend of ours had already been there several times and raved. So me met him at the restaurant and as I alluded to, pretty much ordered the entire menu. The head chef/owner Ricardo Zarate was not there at night. My understanding is that he may still work nights at his gig at WabiSabi in Venice, but I could not get a clear answer on that.
No matter, he manages well, and his team did a fantastic job.
The setting is a food court in South Central called Mercado La Paloma. Not as bad as it sounds, actually. Except the part where they do not allow alcohol. The host did wait on our table and she was very friendly and helpful, albeit disbelieving on the quantity of food we were ordering.
Peruvian giant crunchy set soft corn served as a complimentary starter. Yum. Needs beer, though
Chicha Morada -Purple Corn Tea –
Maracuya – Passion Fruit Juice
Cebada – Barley Ice tea with Herbs and Ginger Root
These Juices were far less sweet than they looks. Quite refreshing,actually. I love these juices as they are similar to the authenticMexican juices; not nearly as much sweetener and acid versus JambaJuice and the like.
Causa del Dia – Crab (Peruvian Potato Salad) – $4
Great combination of flavors and textures and chilled just enough to have a delightful custard effect. Good quality crab.
Papa ala Huancaina – Roasted Potatoes, Boiled egg, Huancaina Sauce – $3
Same sauce as the Causa which was good but redundant. Actually, the flavors here are perhaps too similar to the causa, but delicious nevertheless. Next time I would order one or the other
Salad – Quinoa and Greens – $5
Refreshing light salad with a burst of protein from the Quinoa. Everyone loved it but me. Why? I hate Feta cheese and it was a component of the dressing.
Seco de Cordero – Lamb Shank, Canario beans. Salsa Criolla, Cilantoro beer sauce – $13
Amazing dish for only $13. The shank was perfectly cooked and was fork-tender. The beans were so amazing that I perhaps even enjoyed them more than the lamb. The onions on top were mild and sweet and served as a nice foil to the fatty lamb.
Loma Saltado – Beef Filet, Salsa Criola, Fried Potatoes – $13
The quality of the Filet was decent. For me, I like the potatoes more crunchy. These were so starchy I had to ask if they were perhaps Yucca and not potatoes, but I was incorrect.
Special Menu – Moonfish and Lentil – $13
The fish (Moonfish is also known as Opah) was very fresh and perfectly cooked, with a good crispy sear on the outside and buttery and flaky in the middle. The Lentils were meaty and flavorful and kept their texture. The same garlicy sauce used in many of the dishes was used here as well.
Quinotto- WIld Mushrooms, Quinoa grain Risotto, Crema Fraiche – $10
Probably my husband’s favorite dish. This was a wonderful spin off on the Piedmontese Classic, except lighter and more delicate. Plus the quinoa is so much healthier than rice you don’t feel nearly as guilty enjoying its rich creamy power.
Ceviche Del Dia – Striped Bass – $5
Due to communication problems, we did not get this until after the entrees. It was definitely the highlight of the meal. Only one is pictured, but we actually wound up ordering 2 more it was so good. I like the way they marinate the fish in the citrus to order; it does not marinate all day and overly “cook” the fish. The quality of the bass was excellent. Tender cuts without stringiness. And I love the accompaniments of crunch and smooth with the acid. The Peruvian giant corn, a bit of sweet potato, a few onion slices.
Not Pictured: Arroz con Pollo – Chicken Breast, Spring Onion, Salsa Madre, Sauteed Rice
We had a lot of trouble getting this dish due to a communication error. We got it at the end and there was a problem with getting the picture. It was a good dish with appropriately tender chicken and moist rice but I actually preferred some of the other dishes we got.
All in all, Mo-Chica has great quality, healthful cuisine (if you are careful about ordering) and the prices can’t be beat. I want to go back and try the tasting menu. And more Ceviche.
Mo-Chica: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free delivery with minimum order. Lunch for two, food only, $18-$36. Recommended dishes:causa;ceviche;seco de cordero;arroz con pollo.
In Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave., L.A. (213) 747-2141 or www.mo-chica.com.