10: Ceviche Mixto at Mo-Chica
When Ricardo Zarate moved his inaugural restaurant Mo-Chica last year, from a tiny food court space in South L.A. to a hip industrial space near downtown (from 37th and Grand to 7th and Grand, technically) it was a cross-town move worthy of Weezy Jefferson.
But for all the changes — a swank bar program populated by tart pisco sours; walls full of colorful graffiti murals and a bumping hip-hop soundtrack — Zarate still stuck to his guns in the kitchen. On the menu were many of the same dishes which had brought him to prominence at Mercado La Paloma, none more so than his succulent Peruvian ceviche.
No matter how many raw fish dishes you've had in this sushi-obsessed town, Zarate's ceviche mixto will surely surprise the first time you have it: squares of snow white halibut, fat pink prawns, pale scallops and curls of squid sweeping upward like Frank Gehry curves. Embraced with a marinade of lime juice, crushed aji amarillo chile, and raw onion, the flavors practically leap off the plate, tempered by a soft wedge of sweet potato and some oversized chewy corn kernels.
It's pure Peruvian power executed with Japanese precision, a field of cooking where Zarate's restaurants have come to dominate nationally in the past couple years. Order a bowl, groove to some beat-heavy samba, and sip on your potent glass of mezcal — whether uptown, downtown, or elsewhere, this is a ceviche for all occasions.
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