Monday, July 06, 2009

Mo-chica: Feeling the Peruvian love

Potato salad of the day was bright yellow potatoes layered with crab meat and avocado.

For a while now, it's been bruited that Peruvian food is the NEXT BIG THING. I'm still not sure I buy it as a trend, because I still feel like there's a limit to what you can do with raw fish, potatoes and giant corn kernels. But then I probably said that about Vietnamese too, so what do I know?
In any case, Mo-chica, in the Mercado La Paloma food court (convenient to USC but south of Downtown), is taking these traditional ingredients as far as they can go with an expert hand at combining flavors. The menu is compact, but rotating specials keep things fresh. Since the other stands in the Mercado are closed in the evening, Mo-chica is fairly empty at night, but the marketplace buzzes at lunchtime.
Here's some of the uniformly bright, modern Peruvian dishes we tried:

Ceviche of the day was yellowtail, with a tart, complex dressing incorporating corn, onions and yams. A complementary grilled sardine amuse-bouche had a wonderfully sharp corn and bean-studded dressing.

Aji de Gallina is a stick-to-your-ribs chicken stew with bread sauce and walnuts. It's more of a winter dish, but Mo-chica's version had more going on than the version I had in San Francisco. Use one of the three salsas to provide another layer of flavor.

Salad of the day was a lively mix of barley, lettuce, and plantain fritters.

We also tried the unusual Chicha morada, a tea made from purple corn. The deeply-colored drink has a sweet, fruit taste similar to jamaica. All this came to just $30, which is pretty amazing for this quality of food -- they also use organic produce.
3655 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles


carter said...

Can't wait to get here, maybe this week!

SinoSoul said...

just wish they have MORE types of ceviche everyday...

Kathy A. McDonald said...

Plantain fritters? Like hush puppies but with plantains? At the beach, I watched a lady bake whole, ripe plantains and char them in the fire--that really looked good.

Ravenous Couple said...

@sinosoul: Occasionally, they do have more then one type of ceviche. We had a scallop and uni ceviche one time that was fabulous. We also reviewed Mo Chica as well.

We loved the Causa and Aji Amarillo so much, we made it!

SinoSoul said...

ravenous couple: indeed, I am aware of the uni/scallop ceviche. Ms. Betty Hallock/LAT tweeted the existence of the "special" awhile back. Yet when we arrived at 7pm, it was all gone.

Which begets my desire: "I wish they have more than 1 ceviche".

Tara said...

Holy Yum! I really miss living on the coast. :( The food is amazing...

Steve said...

The grilled sardine with corn alone compels a visit.

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