Monday, October 14, 2013

Mo-Chica: "OG" Tasting Menu Tuesdays: 5-Courses, $27!

If you've been reading this blog, you know I love a good dining deal.  Sometimes I depend on it, to get me through the week.  Often though, 'deal' also disappointingly equates to 'lowest common denominator' - where restaurants default to the standard, safe, chicken or beef meal.
So I was excited to hear that Mo-chica is breaking out of the clutter - where others may take that predictable approach - with its "OG" Tasting Menu of Peruvian offerings, that are still hearty and filling.

It's not possible to talk about Peruvian food in LA without talking about Chef Ricardo Zarate - he pretty much put it on the map here.  The Food & Wine Best New Chef 2011 is the creative mind behind three restaurants showcasing his country's cuisine - including the latest 'Peruvian Izakaya' concept at Paiche, where it was fun for me to try preparations of its namesake prehistoric Amazonian fish recently.

Mo-chica is Chef Zarate's second restaurant, and he has been celebrating its first birthday with a 'throwback' menu that pays tribute to its humble origins in Mercado La Paloma (South Central) food court (though these dishes had never been served there).

The "OG Tasting Menu" is a very generous offering of 5 courses of food at a price that instinct says must be a typo, but isn't (just $27 before taxes and gratuities) - and is homey/hearty - if those are words that can be used with such an exotic cuisine.  It is only available on Tuesdays - and if you swing by between 2:30pm-5pm, during their regular happy hour, you get 20% off drinks as well!

I kicked off the meal with a signature The Doggfather/Pisco Sour (NOT included in the OG Tasting Menu) $11 regularly - a light, refreshing drink made with pisco porton, egg white, fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, evaporated cane syrup, angostura bitter, cinnamon tincture

Course #1: Heirloom Tomato Salad - this is a delicious take on the classic caprese salad: heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella are expected: crispy red quinoa and huacatay (Peruvian black mint) pesto are not.  I liked how the quinoa added a surprise, clean crunch (along with the asparagus), and mint to replace the usual basil.  

Course #2: Ceviche Trio: Tuna Sashimi, Diver Scallop and Hamachi. As I learned with Paiche, there is apparently a huge Japanese population and influence over food in Peru, so the inclusion of sashimi in the tasting menu here is not out of place.  But it's done with a twist.  The tuna sashimi was served with yuzu miso, green shiso, and mountain yam.  The diver scallop was served with aji amarillo (a Peruvian yellow chile pepper) aioli, wasabi and tobiko. The hamachi was served with jalapeno ponzu, nori lettuce, and garlic crisp. 

Course #3: Roasted Striped Bass with aji amarillo choclo pepian, English peas, thyme tomato escabeche, mint chimichurri.  We didn't get Amazonian fish with this one, but the bass was lovely, tender and flaky, and interesting with the corn stew punctuated by the light acidity of the tomato escabeche.

Course #4: Braised Short Rib rocoto yam mash, Kennebec fries, huacatay demi-glace. This one did feel the most 'common' of the dishes in the menu.
Course #5: Chocolate Tres Leches Cake chancaca sauce, blueberries, mint syrup.  Yep, I had to look up chancaca too - it's apparently a sauce made out of raw unrefined sugar and crystallized with honey.  A 'rustic' dessert that is a nice way to finish out the meal after the richness of the preceding dishes.
Although I had to look up a lot of the ingredients used in these dishes, overall the meal again felt very...comforting.  Which maybe goes against our general notion of comfort foods as being dishes that are familiar, and simple.  But it feels like these dishes would be soul soothingly familiar, to someone from Peru.  Definitely tame compared to the bolder, more flavorful and playful cooking at Picca or Paiche.  You get the sense that Chef Zarate is sharing a taste of home here. 

I personally prefer the more vibrant and thoroughly unfamiliar dishes at Paiche or Picca, which feels more like event dining / a meal and entertainment in one. But if you haven't tried Peruvian cuisine yet, and not sure you're ready to go 'full adventurous' both with your tastebuds and wallet - Mo-chica's OG Tasting Menu might be the one to get you started as your beginner's intro to Peruvian food, without a huge investment. It's also a good option for those who work downtown, and just want to grab a nice weeknight meal at a reasonable price before heading home (the portions are definitely so generous that you'll want to roll out of the place and straight into a nap after).

*Disclaimer: This meal was hosted.


514 W 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014
Ph: 213.622.3744
OpenTable: Look for reservations and points


Mo-Chica on Urbanspoon

For more prix fixe dining deals like this one, for every day of the week - see my post here.


  1. Great deal! Definitely a throwback to their Mercado days.

  2. I'm looking forward to trying this place! Just down to the street from my work =) -Sarah



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