Restaurants & Bars 4

More on Mochica

Melanie Wong | Nov 22, 2004 01:19 AM

This is in reply to bernalgirl’s recent post on her meal two weeks ago linked below.

Just a couple days ahead of you, I had the chance to check out Mochica for the first time in the company of 10 friends for a BYOB tasting of Iberian and South American wines. On a Thursday night, the place was never more than half full. We cut a pretty wide swathe through the menu guided by Malik’s experience –
[BROKEN LINK REMOVED]

We tried:

APPETIZERS -

Ceviche Mochica, $15 (shown below)

Ceviche en Crema de Rocoto, $12

Ceviche Mixto, $12 (on the house)

Ceviche de Pescado, $11

Anticuchos, $9

Calamari chicharrones, $8

Choros a la Chalaca, $8

Yuca Frita, $6

As you found, the appetizers were stellar. We liked the beef heart anticuchos so much that we ordered a second plate. The lightly fried, tender and juicy squid chicharrones seasoned with aji limo and soy sauce had so many different things going on flavor-wise in combination with the accompanying sauces. The fried yucca were some of the best I’ve had, crunchy and not at all tough. The choros were New Zealand green mussels served on the half shell and topped with a blend of chopped onion, tomato and roasted corn with more flavorful sauces.

Yet as good as those were, the brilliant ceviches stole the show. We tried four of the five offered. The ceviche mixto was the least of them, IMO, mostly because it had cooked shellfish in it and the flavors were more muddled. It’s hard to choose a favorite of the other three, but when pressed I’ll vote for ceviche mochica, shown below, spiced with rocoto, aji Amarillo and cilantro. Maybe because it was the first dish I tasted here and a harbinger of the ultra-fresh seafood dishes to come. I still don’t know what the greenish cubes (left corner of the plate) were and hope someone can identify them. But right behind it would be the ceviche en crema de rocoto, fabulous for the pure statement of rocoto chili and the unusual sensation of a creamy dressing on ceviche. The ceviche de pescado was also very fine, made with achingly fresh diced halibut, but a bit more mainstream and familiar in its seasoning with lime juice, aji limo and rocoto.

ENTREES -

Lenguado Escabechado, $16

Seco de Cordero, $16

Chuleta de Chancho, $16

Aji de Gallina, $14

Arroz con Mariscos, $16

Lomo Saltado, $13

Moving onto the entrees, still very good overall, but not quite as consistent nor as exciting as the appetizers for me. The seco de cordero and the lomo saltado fell out for me. Though the menu description sounds like it would be one of the most flavorful dishes, the seco de cordero (lamb chop) was underseasoned and lacking enough salt. The lomo saltado used good quality NY strip for the sautéed beef slices, but again was undersalted. The thick wedges of fried potatoes didn’t pick up the juices the way that French fries would.

The lenguado escabechado was a thick pan-seared halibut filet accompanied by escabeche. Amazingly fresh, juicy and perfectly cooked. The arroz con mariscos was a beautifully executed Peruvian style paella chock full of halibut, mussels, prawns, and calamari dressed with salsa criolla and rocotto sauce. The aji de gallina – shredded chicken cooked in creamy aji Amarillo sauce – had already cooled off by the time I got to it, but still had a soothing and comforting taste and texture. My favorite entrée was the chuleta de chancho, a gorgeous marinated and grilled pair of pork loin chops topped with chimichurri and heirba-huena pesto. I loved the accompanying coarsely mashed potatoes infused with garlic that sopped up the flavorful juices.

A word about the starches – the boiled potatoes accompanying the dishes were cooked too soft and nearly mushy for me. However, the white rice served on the side was luminescent and plump, really gorgeous pearly white grains, and I can’t help but wonder what the Peruvians do to achieve this effect.

DESSERTS -

Mousse de Mango

Banana Flambée with pisco and lucuma ice cream

Flan de Coco

Arroz con Leche

Alfajores Nenita

Overall, the desserts were a flop. Only the arroz con leche was worth a second bite. The mousse was gritty. The bananas were underripe and the ice cream was grainy. The flan de coco lacked flavor, and the alfajores were soft and stale with crystallized filling.

OUR WINES -

03 Buil & Gine “Nosis” Verdejo Rueda

?? Viña Godeval Blanco

01 Los Altos Mendoza Malbec

01 Neo Ribera del Duero

94 Pesquera “Reserva Especiale” Ribera del Duero

02 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud

1994 Taylor LBV Porto

Warres White Porto

Hidalgo Cream Napolean Sherry

We had wanted to order an Albariño from the wine list, but it was sold out. We had brought our own wines, one per person, but only opened eight bottles.

I was delighted to see the Nosis on the table, as I’d tasted a tank sample of this wine in February just before bottling. That was my first sampling of the atypical 2003 vintage in Europe and I was astounded at its ripeness and concentration, even for a Spanish wine. At the time I asked the winemaker if he would be able to capture the massive aroma and opulent fruit in the bottle, and he replied, “Madame, we have our secrets, I assure you, we will”. While the wine has settled down and is no longer the explosive blast of fruit, it’s still huge with plenty of intense flavors backed up by refreshing acidity.

I didn’t catch the vintage (probably 2002 or 2003) of the Godeval, but it was my favorite with the ceviches. One of Spain’s crisp, green wines, it’s great with seafood and especially shellfish.

Even though somewhat advanced because of a cork leak, the Pesquera was far and away the best wine on the table, showing all the complexity and breed of the vintage and producer. However, it would have been more enjoyable with a simpler meal, rather than the flamboyant seasonings on our table. Las Rocas with its pleasing spice, youthful strawberry fruit and fleshy flavor profile was more in step with our menu.

Portions were generous here – it was no problem to split orders for 11 diners. Sharing nine appetizers, six entrees, and five appetizers, we had plenty to eat and were stuffed to the gills. Our tab with $8/bottle corkage on 8 bottles, a couple pisco sours, tax and tip came to $36 per person, with one appetizer on the house.

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound