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guelaguetza, hungry cat


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guelaguetza, hungry cat

ickster | Jan 5, 2006 02:38 AM

Having cooked for people over the holidays, I decided to eat out a few times after new years day.

On the way home from the office, I stopped by Guelaguetza on Olympic to pick up dinner. I chose the banana leaf wrapped black chicken mole tamales (3), an order of the platanos fritos con crema-fried plantains with creme fraiche, some black beans and a side of the black mole. One thing to note is that the platanos are seen as sweets in oaxaca and are thus served with a strawberry marmalade (as opposed to the way they are serve in other parts of latin america where they are a treated as a starch and an accompaniment to the meal). The tamales were huge, with the masa being moist and fluffy. The banana leaf imparts a certain smooth texture and a slight, barely noticeable, pleasant herbal flavor. Used the purchased extra mole sauce over the tamales. This meal reminded me how great this place is. Also bought some red mole paste and a cocunut confection to take home. Total, dinner for 2 adults and 2 kids, $40.00

As I had never been, I couldnt find the Hungry Cat. But after a couple of go rounds around the block I reckoned that it was in the Sunset and Vine complex. I had a 9pm reservation but arrived early and was happily surprised to know that there was an open table and was seated promptly. The space is at the back corner of the complex, across from the bookstore. There are a few tables outside, a bar where the full menu is served and tables throughout the rest of the space. The place has a clean, casual feel to it, with concrete walls and floors and dark wood tables and chairs.

We proceeded to order:

oysters on the half shelf, served with cocktail and mignonette sauces

baked oysters with spinach, spices and chili flakes

lobster roll with some of the best fries ever

crab cake with salad accompaniment

poached cod with gnochi and broccoli rabe

I must say that I loved most things about this place. My favorite thing I ordered was the lobster roll. This is chopped lobster tail meat lightly dressed, stuffed into a toasted and buttered roll, accompanied by peanut oil fried long and skinny french fried potatoes. Unexpected pairing, but somehow made sense pairing the lobster with the fries. Another thing I enjoyed were the raw oysters. I liked the oysters because they were very fresh-as was all of the seafood-and because they were allowed to shine through, with the sauces accentuating the flavor and not overpowering it. The crab cake appetizer was huge and full of lump crab meat, nicely prepared and fried. The thing that I didnt enjoy as much were the special baked oysters. I felt that the spinach, spices and chili flakes really overpowered the flavor of the oysters. While the spinach combination was good on its own, and the oysters were moist and tender, this combination didnt seem to work for me.

One thing to note is that the food comes out as it is prepared. This means that you might have to wait for certain dishes to come out while others at the table already have their orders. This actually was not a problem for us since we shared all dishes and it guaranteed that the food was freshly cooked. It also gives the place a relaxed vibe. Ordered a glass of red wine and a pint of Sierra Nevada. One of my new favorite places in this city. Food, drink and tip for 2 people about $115.00

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