Koreatown: Colombian Food and Drinks at Escala
Escala in Koreatown is now open. The Colombian restaurant also features an interesting beverage program run by Aaron Melendrez (formerly of Pot Bar, Cole’s, Ebanos Crossing, Neat).
We started out with something light since we knew we had an onslaught of food coming. The tilapia and shrimp ceviche was great with bits of avocado and bright citrus. I recently read about Asian pear being the base for marinade on many Korean foods and this is true of this ceviche. Chef Chris Oh from Seoul Sausage is the chef and is doing the Colombian food with a slight Asian twist. I enjoyed the sesame seed studded chip as well.
Being an old man drinks sort of gal, I was quite taken with the El Coco Loco. With slivered lime zest, it’s also wonderfully scented. Just throw some sand down and imagine you’re on a tropical beach.
El Coco Loco – Omeca Altos blaco tequila, pineapple-infused Barcardi silver, lime, coconut cream
Guacamole tends to be one of those dividing points with people. I like my guac chunky. But the debate hardly matters when you serve it with chicharron! The deep fried pork skin was much better than any chip.
La Mula Gringa – translation, Moscow Mule but really, it’s a refreshing drink. Aaron has taken it to the next level by infusing the vodka with jamaica (hibiscus) and passion fruit tea. The house ginger syrup is fantastic. It’s much, much more than your average Moscow Mule.
La Mula Gringa – jamaica and passion fruit tea-infused vodka, ginger syrup, lime, soda water
I readily admit to having a chicken wings problem. I love ’em. Escala’s wings have such crispy skin. These could easily compete with Korean fried chicken which also tend to have such crispy skin. The wings are a great snack to share but I could possibly have my own basket.
It seems natural to have lots of fried food at the bar. The pork belly suited our snacking habits perfectly. Drink. Eat. Drink some more. The salsa rioja was really spicy so watch out!
The Colombian Neck Tie was right up my alley. It’s an old fashioned styled drink with panela, which is raw sugar. Grand Mariner is the modifier to the rye. What’s unique is the aguardiente wash which gives it a bit of a kick.
My friend had the Sancho Reyes. The Ancho Reyes chili liqueur is popping up all menus in LA. I love the subtly sweet and spicy liqueur. With tequila, mango and everyone’s favorite spice garnish, tanjin, the flavors were so familiar.
Colombian Neck Tie – Old Overholt rye, Grand Mariner, panela, Peychaud’s bitters, aguardiente wash, flamed lemon oils
Sancho Reyes – Tapatio blanco tequila, Ancho Reyes liqueur, mango, lime, tajin
The chorizo clams were easily one of the best dishes but it’s hard to say that since I really loved the wings and the guacamole as well.
But then I had the pork tamales. With the spicy salsa from the pork belly bites as well as the provided salsa verde, I was in heaven. I can’t wait to come back to try a full meal. The whole fried fish sounds great.
Next weekend, Escala will play host to Maharlika, a Filipino brunch and dinner popup. Maharlika and Jeepney are New York Filipino restaurants which have raised the bar on modern Filipino cooking. Check out the event and get tickets here.