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

1 comment:

Andrew Glass said...


Great Blog!

Just happen to stumble across it but if you’ve got a moment – shoot me an email I’d like to chat.


andrew [at] foodio54 [dot] com


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