Mo-Chica: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011
Mo-Chica is, at the moment, everybody's favorite example of the redemptive qualities of Los Angeles: a simple lunch counter, opened in the nonprofit Mercado La Paloma south of downtown, which propelled Peruvian-Japanese cooking into the first rank of local cuisine; expanded the city's palate to include exotic flavors like the tart-hot rocoto pepper and the musky herb huacatay; and earned its proprietor, Ricardo Zarate, Food & Wine's Best New Chef award, one that does not generally go to guys who run Peruvian lunch counters. Peruvian-Asian food is not hard to find here, and it may not be a surprise that Lima native Zarate worked for several years as the chef of a sushi bar before opening this place. His experiment here is professional Peruvian cooking with first-rate ingredients at popular prices, and the ceviche may be the best in town: cubes of sashimi-quality tuna in a thick vinegar emulsion sharp with chile, soft and tart and brutally spicy, served with the customary corn and potato. While the physical space may be just a few rickety tables plunked into a corner of La Paloma, the crab-enriched potato-salad causa is as carefully composed as a three-star appetizer, and the stir-fry lomo saltado is made for once with the traditional filet mignon. In Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave., L.A. (213) 747-2141, mo-chica.com. Mon., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. & 6-8 p.m.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. & 4-9:45 p.m. No alcohol. Guarded lot parking. MC, V. Peruvian.
99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:
Church & State
Din Tai Fung
El Huarache Azteca
Euro Pane Bakery
Fab Hot Dogs
Good Girl Dinette
La Casita Mexicana
Lazy Ox Canteen
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Night + Market
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Pollos a la Brasa
Sapp Coffee Shop
Son of a Gun
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Waterloo & City
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