Fishing for Ceviche: Los Balcones
Dear Mr. Gold:
Would it be possible to tell me some of your favorite ceviches? I prefer pescado to shrimp. I’m a little apprehensive about how fresh/safe the ceviche is in cheapo places, but if you know a safe, cheap place, that would be ideal. For what it’s worth, I make my own with pickled herring, lemon juice and Pace salsa when the craving gets strong, but would rather have the real thing.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say Los Angeles is the ceviche capital of the world — that would be Lima — but it may be pretty close. Both Border Grill and Ciudad have excellent ceviche made from high-quality fish — I’d say the edge goes to the Peruvian-style ceviche at Ciudad. Many regional Mexican restaurants serve some version of fish ceviche, whether chopped and mounded on a fried tortilla or served as a refreshing snack. There are too many good places to count, but you might start at Mariscos Sinaloa in Highland Park, La Playita in Venice or any of the various branches of Ostioneria Colima; I go to the one at 1465 W. Third St., near downtown. This is, of course, the city in which Nobu Matsuhisa introduced his uptown version of ceviche and its cousin tiradito made with high-grade sushi fish, which are on the menus of not only his Matsuhisa and Nobu (both on La Cienega), but at many of the more progressive sushi bars, including Kiriko on Olympic and Asanebo in Studio City. In fact, practically every restaurant with a velvet rope has one version of ceviche or another, even if it does sometimes come drowned in passion-fruit vinaigrette. But when you’re in the mood for ceviche, you might as well go to the source. At the Peruvian restaurant Los Balcones del Peru, ceviche is pretty much the specialty: shrimp ceviche; fish ceviche; shrimp, squid and octopus ceviche; and the miraculous camarones a la piedra, a spicy, sharp shrimp ceviche from the north of Peru that is properly served warm. And Los Balcones is a lot cheaper than Nobu. 1360 Vine St., Hlywd., (323) 871-9600.
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