"It's not much but it's ours"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Those who have been following my posts on previous expeditions to LA will know that my opinions on the city’s dining options have been mixed. With one or two notable exceptions, the high end and mid level dining has been a disappointment sometimes bordering on the laughably bad. On the other hand, the budget dining, primarily experienced at one of LA’s thousands of ethnic restaurants has been a revelation, far superior to most of what is available in London and at a fraction of the price. Superb Thai, mind blowingly good Japanese, every style of Korean cuisine I knew about and many I didn’t and, of course, Mexican food that is a million miles away from the, (how can I put it politely? I can't) fucking rubbish we get in London.

Peruvian, however was a new one on me and when Sybil suggested we head down to a food court in South LA for lunch yesterday I was only too happy to go along expecting at he very least an interesting experience. It turned out to be more than that and Mo-chica, a Nuevo Peruvian restaurant, which has already attracted plenty of plaudits and coverage proved to be another little treasure in LA’s impressive ethnic dining scene.

The menu is short but interesting with a handful of daily specials and,unlike so many food court stands, everything is prepared fresh to order, which means a short wait before your food is delivered. However, a small free bowl of pumpkin soup not only served to fill the time but also to convince us that we had made the right choice for lunch.

It was confirmed by the arrival of a shared starter of the “Ceviche del Dia” in this case using sushi grade sea bass “cooked” in a sauce sharpened with lime and decorated with large ears of corn, both fresh and fried, to provide texture. The sauce was good enough for me to request a spoon so that I could make sure none of it was left in the bowl, which tells you all you need to know about a really rather lovely dish.

Sybil’s main course choice of Seco de Codero was less inspiring. Although the meat from a slow cooked lamb shank came from the bone with little effort and was served in a thick beer sauce with a healthy amount of canario beans, it would probably have seemed a more exciting dish to an American, less used to encountering lamb on a menu than someone from Europe who has eaten and cooked with it all their adult life.

More impressive was my own dish of Arroz Con Mariscos where the subtly spiced rice came plumped out with a generous amount of seafood including meaty shrimps, fresh mussels and clams in their shells. It benefited from the addition of a hefty amount of chilli to give the whole dish a little kick, but for $12 provided a healthy enough portion to make any thoughts of dessert seem a little silly.

Mo-Chica does not serve alcohol, but their homemade juices proved a perfect accompaniment to our lunch and we chose a couple of glasses of Maracuya, fresh passion fruit juice, which, I am reliably informed, is often prescribed in Peru for the treatment of urinary infections. So now you know.

If the juice helps you take the piss, then the bill certainly wasn’t and came to $40 including our drinks and a tip, a more than acceptable amount for a decent lunch and for more evidence that I am going to have a great deal of fun exploring all the ethnic eating possibilities in my soon to be new home town.

I can’t wait.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally got this point on my last trip to LA in November. Oh sure, there are interesting midscale and upper end places. I thought Bazaar was very good indeed.

But it is the oceans of small ethnic places that make LA what it is. Least interesting meal: the $350 a head blow out at Bouchon (thank god I wans't paying). best? A tie between the korean barbecue at Soot Bowl Jeep (sic?) in Korea Town, and the southern Thai at Jitlada on the arse end of sunset.

oh, and of course the endless parade of sushi joints, any one of which would be heralded as a minor miracle in London. In LA they are just that place on the corner.

Jay Rayner

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 8:48:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Thanks, Jay

Bazaar and Providence were two of the high end places which have impressed me and Little Dom perhaps the only one in the mid price range. Other wise they have all been pretty blah.

The ethnic food on the other hand is, as you say, far more interesting. Jitlada was one of the first places Sybil took me to and I am keen to revisit. We always have at least one meal in K-Town and there are two sushi places within walking distance of the apartment that would draw queues in London.

Next time try the Ramen at Daikokuya. I have never been a fan of Ramen until I tried this place in downtown's Little Tokyo.

Also, the more down home American style places can be excellent. Marty's for burgers, Roscoe's and Honey's Kettle for fried Chicken, Langer's for pastrami, Philippe's for dipped sandwiches and The Nickel Diner for, er diner food.

I suspect these are the sort of places I shall be eating at regularly in the months to come


Wednesday, December 30, 2009 2:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Sandy said...

If the LA Peruvian places are like those in NYC, the simple roasted chicken is also terrific. It has become our go-to take-out choice.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 5:18:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...


How would it differ from normal rotisserie chicken? Sounds like something I shall have to look out for.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009 5:28:00 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've been meaning to go...let's make a plan to go together and try some of the other dishes.


Thursday, December 31, 2009 7:26:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 2 said...

Definitely, John

Their other dishes looked interesting


Thursday, December 31, 2009 8:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Carlos said...

Being a Peruvian living in London and an occasional reader of your posts, I'm glad your first experience with Peruvian food has been positive.

Now I encourage you to go further and try a nice meal, probably at Gaston Acurio's place if it has opened already in LA (one in SF and NYC). You would not be disappointed.

I'm so jealous as there is no Peruvian food at all in London. Missing it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010 11:29:00 pm  

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