The New Mo-Chica in Downtown
Mo-Chica from Chef Ricardo Zarate opened yesterday in Downtown Los Angeles. The Peruvian restaurant moved from its previous digs by USC to the new “Restaurant Row” on 7th Street. It’s exciting they’re in a bigger space but what’s even more newsworthy is Mo-Chica now has a full liquor license. No more shall us boozers have to hide wine or other adult libations at the old Mercado La Paloma location. By the way, Chef Ricardo plans to retain that space as a test kitchen of sorts.
The cocktails are are from Brian Summers and Deysi Alvarez. Brian has worked at Test Kitchen where Chef Ricardo was the chef in residence playing host to visiting chefs’ test kitchen nights. He was most recently a finalist in the LA’s Best Bartender contest and is found at Harvard & Stone as well. Deysi is most recently from Picca and I had a taste of her cocktails about a year or so ago.
When I spoke with Chef Ricardo, he asked me if I thought the new Mo-Chica stayed true to its original taste or was it like Picca, his highly successful modern Peruvian restaurant on the Westside. I have to say it is definitely not like Picca. Mo-Chica showcases Chef Ricardo’s love of authentic and traditional Peruvian cuisine while Picca is where it’s evolving, with traces of Japanese techniques. On the Mo-Chica menu are still his signature Lomo Saltado, Arroz con Mariscos and Ceviches. There are still quite a few stews, some more for the daring and adventurous eater such as Cau Cau (tripe stew) and Estofado de Alpaca (alpaca stew).
I started off with the Papa Don’t Peach cocktail with Banks rum, peach infused Calvados, simple syrup, lemon, peach bitters and then moved to the Santa Claus Is Back In Town with Atlantico Reserva rum, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and lime juice. The cocktails are light enough to go well with the food but had elements that allowed them to stand on their own. The Santa was my favorite of the two until I sneaked sips of a friend’s Oxacalifornia Love (mezcal, Chinaco tequila, lime, pineapple roccoto gomme). That was amazingly light despite the two heavy hitters – mezcal and tequila.
Peru is known for its seafood dishes and Chef Ricardo does the raw stuff right. The Spanish Mackerel tiradito was an excellent starter if you didn’t go for a Cesar or roasted beet salad. Personally, I’m all about the citrus-y sauce with the tiradito which cuts the assertive and oily fish.
Last year at the LA Street Food Fest, I had a chance to taste Chef Ricardo’s tripe stew. The Cau Cau is wonderfully tender and I selfishly ate most of it, leaving a piece or two for my table mates. I’m sure they weren’t mad though as they were busy with the Lomo Saltado and Black Tiger Prawn pasta (no photos).
I did get a taste of the Colita de Res (oxtail stew). As soon as I glanced at the meat, it fell off the bone. It was so tender!
Alpaca burger! This is not a big burger but perfect for lunch. At this point I was talking to Jorge, the manager, and he cautioned this wasn’t like Picca and to leave stuff on the menu so we would come back! Ha, well there are plenty of items I still haven’t tried. I’m eying the alpaca stew, the mussels, pork belly and my favorite sea bass.
We finally cut ourselves off with dessert. We had the creme brulee with purple corn, granny smith apples, pineapple, raisins, apricots.First look at Mo-Chica Talking Foodie (pics from Mo-Chica) Ricardo Zarate’s Cebiche Test Kitchen Night A Minty Favorite- Mo-Chica’s seabass with lentils A Tasting Menu at Mo-Chica Unposted photos from May 2011 © The Minty 2012