Friday, August 31, 2012


On my birthday, I ended up having two dinners. It was unintentional and definitely gluttonous, but the sort of thing I have come to expect during a press trip. The first of those dinners was at Mo-Chica, the newish restaurant by Ricardo Zarate in downtown Los Angeles. This is actually Mo-Chica 2.0 which opened in May after a smaller concept also in downtown. The restaurant has a modern casual feel and serves beautiful Peruvian dishes. Since we were there for the dineLA trip, we ordered everything on the special menu as well as a few cocktails. It was a great sampling of the normal fare that the restaurant offers. For $35 per person, dineLA diners were able to pick two appetizers, one entre, and one dessert. The portions were generous and you didn't feel like you were getting cheated out of a regular meal. Again, our hosted group had one of everything.


I started with a Oaxacacalifornia cocktail ($12). This spicy and smoky cocktail is made with mezcal, tequila, fresh lime juice, and pineapple rocoto gomme. It packed a delicious punch with just the right amount of sweetness from the pineapple.


The Cesarin is a Peruvian version of a Caesar salad with grilled romaine, Parmesan cheese, and huacatay anchovy dressing.


The antichucho de pulpo was one of two versions of octopus I was presented over the weekend. This grilled version was definitely my favorite. The tender octopus was served with roasted potatoes and a bright jalapeno sauce.

Antichucho de Pulpo

The albacore ceviche was like a work of art with sealed albacore, leche de tigre, Japanese cucumbers, and spicy rocoto. It was definitely not like any other ceviche I have had before.

Albacore Ceviche

Steamed clams (almejas) are served pancetta, aji Amarillo butter, and a generous chunk of grilled bread to mop up the juices.


The artichoke was a favorite for those of us craving vegetable matter. The artichoke is grilled and topped with a huacatay butter which gets into all of the leaves. It is served with a slightly spicy rocoto aioli dipping sauce.


Several of the dishes on the dineLA menu came topped with a fried egg which no one at our table objected to. The first was the bistek a lo pobre. Tender grilled pieces of skirt steak are served with pan fried banana and chickpea tacu tacu. The whole dish is topped with a crispy fried egg.

Bisteck a lo Pobre

Estofado de Alpaca is another egg topped dish with fresh tagliatelle pasta topped with an alpaca stew and that beautiful fried egg. My first experience with alpaca was a success.

Estofado de Alpaca

Quinoa is still having it's moment. The seed originated in ancient Peru so it makes sense that Zarate uses it in a variety of dishes. This quinoa risotto was super creamy and served with wild mushrooms and a parsley infused oil. It got me thinking about "alternative" risottos and I made one a few weeks ago (more to come on that later).


Next up were the fish dishes. Roasted black cod (Carapulcra) was served with Peruvian sun dried potato stew, peanuts, and chimuchurri. The flavors are bright and fresh.


My favorite entree was the paiche (an Amazonian fish) which was served ajiaco de arroz and a cherry tomato escabeche. It has similar bright flavors as the cod, but with a bit of a spicy kick and the dish feels lighter.


For dessert we were treated to a quinoa creme brulee which had the crisp top as a regular creme brulee with the added texture of quinoa in the custard.

Quinoa Creme Brulee

And lastly these sweet alfajores which were served with a birthday candle for me.


Mo-Chica is a fabulous addition the vibrant downtown LA dining scene.  It's easy to see why Ricardo Zarate won Food & Wine's best new chef award in 2011. His food is exciting, bold, and approachable. I'm excited to see what he will come up with next.

514 W. 7th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 622-3744

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Maria said...

What a great meal!

susan said...

I love that restaurant! I hope Chicago is agreeing with you!

Unknown said...

oh wow, so many unique dishes, great way to celebrate your birthday :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

You ate alpaca? Wow! I imagine it tastes like venison. Happy Birthday!

lisa is cooking said...

Sounds like a fantastic birthday! I've visited a restaurant focused on Peruvian food, but I'd love to. Everything you tried looks great. And, love the alfajores!

Joanne said...

TWO birthday dinners??? Lucky girl. Remind me next year that that's what I want for my birthday! Looks delicious all around!

Gastronomer said...

I have a dinner date here on Thursday with D-TAB. I am excited for all the fried eggs and alpaca.

Heather Christo said...

everyone should get to have two dinners on their birthday! I have never had peruvian food, but that looks so incredible that I think I will make it a new mission!Happy belated by the way!

vanillasugarblog said...

been m.i.a
looks like i missed a great meal.
that cocktail would put me in a coma; totally worth it though.
your photos are so much better--did you get a new camera?

Esi said...

Same camera, Dawn. The resto had good lighting.

Kristina Vanni said...

I've been meaning to try this place. Thanks so much for the review - definitely have to stop by now!

The Food Librarian said...

I've been to Mo-Chica 1.0, and can't wait to try their new spot. Everything you made looks fantastic. Happy Belated Birthday, Esi! - mary