Restaurant Ecuatoriano El Caserio
I’m beginning to think I need to mark off on a map of all the cuisines I’ve had. When a friend asked to try Ecuadoran food, I could not actually say I had it before. Which meant I had to try it immediately. Looking over El Caserio‘s menu which they describe themselves as Italian-Ecuadoran, I saw glimpses of food I traditionally had associated with Argentinian (empanadas) and Asian (fried rice). Would it then be closer to Cuban then, a mix of flavors or what? I was about to find out!
I asked for a guanabana juice to start. I wasn’t in the mood to drink though they have some astonishingly low-priced cocktails. I might have to try the Noche Apasionada which is vodka, passion fruit juice and Campari. It must be the Italian influence but I thought it was neat this restaurant in a strip mall located in a bizarre traffic triangle on the edge of nowhere really in Los Angeles had Campari.
The house bread is served with the sickest, most fiery hot salsa you can imagine. We could not stop eating it. I even added it to a few drops of my other food.
The empanadas were long airy rectangular things, quite different from the Argentinian sort. We got the cheese and beef ones. Both were great though I probably would have a hard time not ordering both every single time.
And since the empanadas are so well-priced, why not get both? Unless you’re vegetarian, then get two cheese in that case.
Some friends got sangria. I thought the cocktail umbrella in a wine glass was the most hilarious and adorable thing.
We were also quite excited to order the humitas, a sweet corn and chile tamale. It’s a good non-fried and filling appetizer.
The Sopa Marinera or seafood soup said it served two. There were four of us and we still had trouble getting through the enormous bowl. Then again, we did just have three appetizers and the fiercest salsa with bread. The soup had a healthy amount of seafood including shrimp, clams, fish, octopus and calamari.
When I first viewed the menu online before I got to the restaurant, I knew I wanted the Seco de Chivo, the goat stew. I love goat and was hoping for something close to my loves; Korean black goat stew and Jamaican goat stew. As it turned out, the goat was not as tender as I would have liked. It was still good but I would not order this again only because there are other things on the menu I want to try.
We really didn’t need the pork rib dish, the Llapingauchos con fritada but I’m glad we ordered it. It turned out to be my favorite dish. The pork ribs were great and I loved the potato patties topped with a fried egg. The portion is very generous and more than enough for two people to share.
From the South American Wok menu came the shrimp fried rice. In this instance, I think Natalie Peruvian does a much better job at interpreting fried rice. This rice was a bit greasy and closer to what you’d find in an old-fashioned Chinese dive that probably also serves egg foo young.
I recommend the empanadas, drinks and pork ribs. I have heard they do a good job with pasta so I’ll have to try the more Italian items next time at El Caserio.