Mo Chica (more please)

If I were to tell you the dish pictured below came from a restaurant in a food court, would you be surprised? I would be.

Mo Chica is a Peruvian restaurant located in the Mercada La Paloma building south of downtown, just a few miles from USC.  On the outside, the building looks like a large warehouse.  Inside, there are a handful of shops and restaurants all sharing numerous tables to eat at.

Since I was dining alone, I ordered two appetizers because I wanted to be able to try more than one dish. I’ve read many people’s rave reviews of Mo Chica’s ceviche, so I ordered that, as well as a the causa of the day: spicy crab.

Mo Chica

The causa ($4) came first and was perfectly plated and executed. A salad of spicy crab was plated on top of thinly sliced avocados and then topped with Mo Chica’s tasty potato salad. This isn’t just any potato salad. It could very well be the potato salad of the gods.  The potato was rich and creamy while the crab was sharp and spicy. Although they seemed to be on two ends of the flavor spectrum, they worked together perfectly. The precise drizzle of spicy green sauce on top delivered just the right amount of back-of-the-throat heat to each bite.  I could see this exact dish being served with half the flavor but at double the price at any of the numerous tapas restaurants all over LA. The fact that it was less than a Lincoln was just icing on the cake.

Mo Chica

The ceviche of the day ($5) featured scallop and sea bass.  After the heavenly causa, I worried that the ceviche would fall short, but it certainly didn’t.  This isn’t your Aunt Helen’s flavorless shrimp cocktail.  Mo Chica’s ceviche is a citrusy, spicy, slap in the face. The salty stinging in my mouth left me wondering why it took me so long to get down there. For those who can’t take the sharp heat of the ceviche, munch on the softly cooked yams included as a respite from the bold flavor of the ceviche. The sprinkling of individual pieces of hominy (or are they kernels of giant white corn?) was bland, but adds a thoughtful change in texture from the pieces of fish.  Unfortunately, the otherwise delicious dish was marred by a few scales and bones left on the pieces of fish.

The only bad thing I can say about my first meal at Mo Chica is that since I’ve found two dishes that I really like, it’ll be difficult for me to order anything different when I make my inevitable return.

Mo Chica
3655 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 747-2141

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