Showing posts with label ricardo zarate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ricardo zarate. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Los Balcones and Chef Ricardo Zarate Pairs Up to Serve Mestizo Cuisine in Studio City

Los Balcones has been dishing up traditional Peruvian food for a few years now in LA, but the Studio City location (which took over the old Girasol space) has partnered up with Chef Ricardo Zarate to revamp the whole menu along with chef Polit Castillo. The result is mestizo cuisine, referring to the multicultural influence both in Peru and on the menu, in particular the mix of Peruvian and Spanish cultures.

You won't find the traditional Peruvian food that you see at the other Los Balcones locations here. Beyond lomo saltado and ceviche, they want to show more of what modern cooking in Peru is like. We started with the Salmon tiradito, beet tiger's milk, roasted baby beets, orange miso, beet powder ($16)
Is this not the most beautiful tiradito you've ever seen? It was overall a great tiradito, although the beet slightly overpowers the salmon flavor.

Los Balcones also have some good cocktails, like this Margarita Sofia (tequila, passion fruit, lime, huacatay)
Los Balcones
Ceviche frito, striped bass, rocoto leche de tigre, roasted sweet potato, cancha corn chulpe ($16)
Los Balcones
This was my first time having ceviche frito (fried ceviche). It's apparently a fairly recent trend in Peruvian cooking where the seafood is marinated in leche de tigre (a la ceviche) and then fried. Adding this to the menu is a nod to the evolution of Peruvian cuisine.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Superstar chefs at the sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, April 8-10

by guest blogger @btsunoda

Superstar chefs Cat Cora, Ricardo Zarate, Valerie Gordon, and Suzanne Tracht are among the lineup for the sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, April 8-10, 2016

The three-day festival, held in the heart of Palm Desert’s famed El Paseo shopping district, is produced by Palm Springs Life magazine in conjunction with co-producers Tony Marchese and Dominic Peterson. The Festival begins Friday, April 8 with a four-course gourmet luncheon, expertly prepared by celebrity chefs and served in an elegantly-appointed tent. The luncheon is followed by two days of Grand Tastings, featuring delectable morsels from more than 40 restaurants, created by renowned chefs from all across California. More than 70 premium wines and champagnes will be offered. In addition there will be 20 live cooking demos.

I recently attended a media tasting event and was able to preview some of the tasty bites, wine and liqueurs that will be served.
A sampling of premium beer and wines were available for us to taste. The Kenwood Yulupa Cuvée Brut was a well balanced sparkling wine with hints of fresh peach. It was a great way to invigorate my palate for what I was about to sample.
Executive chef Engin Onural from The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge in Palm Desert prepared 3 offerings of common menu items: sunomono, ceviche and California roll. Last December, Best Chefs of America bestowed the title of “Best Chef” to Onural.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sipping through the Spring Cocktails at Mo-Chica

by guest blogger Brian Lee @iam_robot

By now I trust you all have made it to Mo-Chica. Since its opening more than 2 years ago, this modern Peruvian delight is known for its fantastic lunch deal, expansive happy hour menu and wildly exotic fares (alpacas stew, Amazonian fish escabeche, etc). It’s definitely one of my favorites and it almost seemed like a miracle when Zarate moved to this upscale DTLA location after 3 years residing as a modest food court stand in Mercado Paloma (east of USC). I remember I was redeeming my $20 groupon and I was thoroughly wowed with his mashed potatoes & crab dish (Crab Causitas).

Last Monday I had the chance to taste their spring cocktail menus. Each season, experienced mixologists update their cocktail menu to accentuate local and seasonal ingredients and both classic and new trends. This time, Deysi Alvarez, also mixologist at Zarate’s Paiche & Blue Tavern, incorporates fresh fruits and floral accents to match up Zarate’s fresh tropical dishes like Chicken Truffle Causitas and Crab Causitas. I think I ate 8 of those crab causitas ...
IMG_2477 IMG_2479
I really like how Alvarez infuses lots of unconventional ingredients into her drinks (egg whites, chica morada reduction, or rhubarb cardamom gomme). As strange as some of these ingredients sound, her drinks are very approachable to amateur cocktail drinkers like me – they mostly taste refreshing without being overly fruity or sweet.

Below is the list of cocktails presented to me:
Basil Blossom - Thai basil infused quinoa vodka, violet liqueur, fresh lemon, simple syrup, soda water
IMG_2476 This is probably my favorite. I am bewildered with the floral aroma and burst of fruity flavor from the vodka and violet liqueur. I was hesitant about the violet liqueur inclusion at first but the aroma is very subdued & not artificial at all. Overall the cocktail feels very light with some fizzy finish. I thought this would pair very well with lightly seasoned dishes or steamed vegetables.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Revisiting Picca with Gojuchang Lamb Chops and Avocado Cocktail

I never got around to writing about Picca when they first opened, so with the newly decorated upper level mezzanine (I love the warm lights) and new menu items come my opportunity to write about it.

They did not change the entire menu but there are plenty of new items, my favorite of which is the Anticucho de Cordero (lamb chops, gojuchang marinade, aji amarillo miso, $28)

It's a bit pricey for two lamb chops but I just can't get enough of that gojuchang marinade! The lamb was tender but even after the meat was gone I wanted to keep sucking on the bone ...

There are a couple of new cocktails as well, but one of my favorites remained from the old menu, which is the green one pictured below: The Avocado Project (5 Island white rum, fresh avocado, vitamin C (orange juice perhaps?), fresh lime juice, agave nectar, salt, $12)

When I first ordered this drink I was expecting a creamier drink, instead the citrus cuts it nicely, making it a beautifully balanced drink with a hint of avocado flavor.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mo-Chica's $27 Tuesday OG Tasting Menu

When Mo-Chica was just a stall at the Mercado La Paloma, Ricardo Zarate would do special tasting menus on Tuesdays. They've no revived the Tuesday tastings at the downtown Mo-Chica. The "OG Tasting Menu" offers 5 courses for just $27! A good deal, right?

The menu changes but when I went the 5 courses started with an Heirloom tomato salad, crispy red quinoa, fresh mozzarella, huacatay pesto

A fun Peruvian twist on the cliche tomato mozzarella with pesto

The next course is a Ceviche trio:
tuna sashimi, yuzu miso, green shiso, mountain yam
Diver scallop, aji amarillo aioli, wasabi, tobiko
Hamachi, jalapeno ponzu, nori lettuce, garlic crisp
ceviche trio
I'm glad they included a ceviche course in the tasting menu, because what's a visit to Mo Chica without some? Because it was more unusual to find, my favorite here was the scallop. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Paiche (Marina del Rey)

After Picca and Mo Chica, Ricardo Zarate is moving further south with Paiche in Marina del Rey.
The name Paiche comes from a type of fish from the Amazon, but you can't just use the name without serving it, so Paiche does indeed serve paiche. Of course, I had to try some and went for the Paiche tiradito (Amazonian fish, aji amarillo lemon vinaigrette, tamari, sweet potato mousse - $10)
In keeping with their other restaurants, the cocktails here are worth trying. The cocktail program is helmed Deysi Alvarez who has been working with Zarate and Stephane Bombet at the previous restaurants. One of my favorites is The Last Ice Age (Pisco Porton, Hakushu whiskey 12yr, egg white, lime, lemon, evaporated simple syrup, Fernet Branca drops - $13)
It's frothy without being too sweet or rich, this will be nice for the summer nights ahead.

For appetizers, I suggest the Yuquitas (stuffed yucca beignets, Manchego cheese, grated parmesan - $8)
These beignets are quite unique. They're pretty light, chewy, and the combination of fried yucca and creamy cheese is delicious.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mo-Chica: Bringing Upscale Peruvian to a Casual Downtown Mercado

Ever since it opened, Ricardo Zarate's Mo Chica has been applauded all over the blogosphere as perhaps the best Peruvian restaurant in town, but the location belies its quality. Tucked inside Mercado La Paloma, a community marketplace in South Central, only those knowing where to go would find it.
I had wanted to check the place out for so long and then the 30% off Blackboard Eats coupon came along and now there's really no reason not to go. I joined the group of bloggers Sinosoul, Wanderkind, Lush Angeles, and Thirsty Pig for a dinner here.

There are juice bars, clothing and knick knack stores, then to the right of the entrance there are neatly arranged tables. That had to be it, and it was.
It looks like a food court but you do get waitress service here, so just take a seat and wait.

Addictive Peruvian corn nuts to start!
The big and starchy peruvian corn is perfect for these corn nuts. They left this plate in front of me and I have to admit I probably ate most of it.

Mo-Chica offers three traditional Peruvian drinks (non-alcoholic, Mo-Chica has no liquor license): Maracuya, Cebada, and Chicha Morada. I had a hard time deciding but finally decided to try the Cebada, their version of barley tea (or barley juice, rather).
A good choice if you wanted something less sweet yet still distinctive and refreshing.

Crab Causa ($4)
This was a generous portion of creamy delicious crab meat for just $4! The causa I had at La Mar in Lima was potato topped with seafood, here it is instead lots of crab topped with a layer of potato. For the price, highly recommended. I would've happily ordered another.

Next we got some Peruvian potatoes in a creamy mayo sauce.
Nothing special here, with the egg and all it reminds of potato salad. Not bad but wouldn't crave it. Moving on.

Seabass Cebiche ($12)
Since the cebiche option changes, depending on your luck what you have may be better or worse. The seabass is definitely good and this was one of the best ceviches I've had in town, although in comparison to the causa we just had, this $12 for seabass cebiche seems a little more steep.

I arrived before everyone else in the group and since the waitress said there was only one order left of the special of the day, I reserved it immediately:
Ling Cod Carapulcra with sundried potatoes, Chimichurri Sauce ($14)
Carapulcra is an ancient Peruvian stew typically made with dried potatoes, chili, cumin, peanuts, and usually pork. The ling cod carapulcra here is a much more refined and lighter version. I'm really glad we got the last order, this was an amazing dish. The stew was flavorful yet restrained enough to not overwhelm the flavor of the cod itself.

They had another ling cod preparation since the carapulcra ran out and it was also good, but I enjoyed the carapulcra more.

Oxtail Risotto ($13): Braised oxtail, barley-huancaina risotto
The oxtail was so tender and moist and the risotto well flavored and well prepared. Despite the use of a gelatinous cut and a creamy risotto, the dish was quite well balanced and was not overwhelmingly heavy. This might be my favorite dish that night.

Seco de Cordero ($13)
Lamb shank, canario beans, cilantro, beer sauce
I looked up canario beans and they are apparently yellow Peruvian beans. The lamb shank was quite tender and flavorful also but while I normally love lamb shank, I actually preferred the oxtail here. Still, this was another very nice dish and not too heavy.

Everyone was going to skip dessert but I couldn't help myself when I heard "maracuya creme brulee."
The slight tartness made for a nice finish to our meal.

Mo-Chica's food preparation and plating were definitely unexpectedly refined considering its location. Ricardo Zarate has brought Peruvian cuisine in the area to a new level, and with prices that are undeniably reasonable with the entrees priced less than $15. Our meal that night? Sure we used a 30% BBE coupon but $17 per person after tax and tips for what we had was ridiculously cheap.

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

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