Aro Latin | Pasadena and vicinity | Latin, Mexican, Indian | Restaurant
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The menu at South Pasadena's Aro Latin is a cultural mishmash that encompasses both chef Rocio Camacho's Oaxacan cooking and owner Karan Raina's Indian heritage. So there's chicken with mole poblano, but also ribs cooked with coconut milk and served with fresh mango. Here you might come across the best tortilla soup you've ever had, the very essence of chile and chicken and corn — only to later encounter dishes that fail in an elemental way. It almost feels as if there's both a genius in the kitchen and a cook who's missing basic training. While the chips and salsa cost $5, they are worth every penny. You get a trio of salsas, which rotate but almost always include a smooth pecan walnut concoction that's rich and complex, bitter and creamy, and utterly fantastic. Meanwhile, a gorgeous nutty green mole comes over a fillet of snapper. Too bad, then, that the fish was undercooked when I had it. Though the shrimp aguachile starts off well, the brightness of the sauce ends in an oddly bitter place, like raw grass. And the mole poblano? This is where the genius shows. No surprise: It's amazing. —Besha Rodell

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