Friday, January 15, 2010

Mo-chica at the El Mercado La Paloma

El Mercado La Paloma is the epitome of LA diversity. This colorful food court is located in a less desirous neighbhorhood near USC. Inside is some of the best homestyle eats to be found in LA, and home to one of my favorite restaurants, Mochica.

"Mochica is a language from a pre-Incan civilization from the Northern coast of Peru known as the moche" from Mochica's website. Interesting, but it doesn't tell much about the food, which I will describe as a fusion. It doesn't resemble any Peruvian food I've tasted (i.e., Pollo Inca) instead Mochica has a Japanese influence, food is more refined, much care is put into the presentation.

I've enjoyed everything I've eaten here, not least their colorful beverages, which are laid out in huge plastic barrels out front. My favorite is the eye-catching Chicha Morada, a deep purple drink made from purple corn. It is surprisingly tart and refreshing. My second favorite is their Chebada, a drink made of barley, reminiscent of Korean teas I drank in my youth.

Appetizers are a must here, I recommend their sashimi grade Ceviche Del Dia. The raw pieces of fish, which changes seasonally, is prepared like a ceviche, but the size, flavor and quality of the cuts are much better. Another popular appetizer is the Causa Del Dia, a fancier version of potato salad.

Ceviche Del Dia, photo courtesy of Mo-Chica

Causa Del Dia, picture courtesy of Mo-chica

For entree, I highly recommend their Quinotta or the Lomo Saltado. Quinotto is a play on two words, quinoa and risotto. The dish is made from quinoa grain but served risotto-style, with creme fraiche and wild mushrooms. It is creamy and delicious, probably my favorite dish of all. If you're craving protein, the Lomo Saltado is the way to go, it's a generous portion of beef.

Prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is cozy, but the food is great. The unusual location makes Mo-Chica more interesting, like a secret location found by following back roads on an archaic map. The neighborhood needs improvement but I never felt threatened at La Paloma during the day and there's ample parking. It's a short drive from downtown LA and definitely worth checking out!

Mo-Chica on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 1, 2010

L'Atelier De Joel Robuchon

Ahhhh Las Vegas.... there's so many Michlin stars sparkling like diamonds along the Strip, a foodie paradise. Chris and I decided to up my foodie credentials and go to Sin City for a foodiefest. The highlight of our weekend was L'Atelier De Joel Robuchon. This place was amazing, I must say a few paradigms were shifted after my dinner here. Joel Robuchon, touted as one of the world's greatest chefs, did not disappoint.

The cuisine was Cal French, rather then classical French and the L'Atelier was not as formal as the Mansion. The seating is casual, similar to a sushi bar, and interacting with the staff and other diners was encouraged. Chris loved this arrangement but I did not.  I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with a fellow foodie next to us but I found it hard to relax. However, the uncomfortable seating did not diminish the quality of the food. Food was spectacular, we both got the Club Tasting Menu for $75 per person. It comes with five courses and choice of main entree.

The amuse bouche was foie gras with parmesan cheese foam. It was argueably the best bite of the night.

I loved the presentation of the amuse bouche and the bread. It was on pieces of finished stone, for the amuse bouche, the stone was hot, but for the butter it was ice cold. Butter had the texture of a soft cheese, I was told it was because it was imported from France.

First course was pumpkin and ginger cream with crunchy seeds, followed by crispy langoustine fritter with basil pesto.

Main entrees were the beef rib eye and the scottish salmon with aromates and cripsy potatoes. They were both good, the beef was very fatty and the salmon perfectly cooked. The Club entrees were more standard fare, dishes that would not offend anyone. While I liked the entrees, I wished I didn't order the Club menu and wished I tried something more exotic from their regular menu. Both entrees came with a side of Robuchon's famous mash potatoes, 50% potato, 50% butter.

From the regular menu we ordered the maine lobster in a tomato sauce with green asparagus. This dish would be excellent for anyone who loves lobster.

The highlight of the evening was the dessert. I ordered the traditional tartes while Chris got the ice cream and sorbets. They were scrumptious.

After dinner we saw Zumanity at New York, New York, it was a fantastic night. However the highlight of the night was the food. What a great way to start a great night out in sin city!

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon


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