hubby, friend, and i (same trio as the first visit) were back at Mochica friday night to try more things. we made an 8:30pm reservation and when we arrived were pleased to see the restaurant completely full with the exception of one four-top, which was apparently ours. we sat and those addictive fried garbanzos immediately appeared.... and immediately disappeared. ;-) our server happily refilled the bowl, just like last time.
starters: this visit, we decided to try the queso frito and the ceviche mochica. it was really hard to pass up the anticuchos but in the spirit of adventure and variety..... both starters turned out to be good choices. the queso was frito'd perfectly-- crispy, crumbly coating enveloped gooey, slightly chewy white cheese (tasted a bit like whole-milk mozzarella but i'm not 100% sure.) the tomato-oregano sauce was rich and well-spiced, but not overwhelming the flavors of the cheese. as far as fried cheese goes, this was great, but not something i'd order again only because they have so many more unique offerings. the ceviche mochica was great -- 3 piles of thinly sliced, very fresh halibut, each marinated in a different chile-flavored base. each variety had its own pronounced and individual flavor, complex but not at all spicy, and the fish retained an excellent texture. we'd definitely order this again but only after we try the 2 or 3 other ceviche offerings to compare.
entrees: hubby got the Chuleta de Cancho again (grilled pork chop), partly because he's a creature of habit but mostly because of the garlic mashed potatoes that accompanied it. he said it was just as amazing this time as last. friend went with the Jalea (a frito mixto of seafood). each piece of seafood was perfectly battered and fried, light and crispy with no trace of grease. there was a combination of halibut chunks, large prawns, calamari rings and tentacles, mussels, and pieces of potato. the rocoto chile sauce nicely complimented the milder flavors of the seafood, a nice balance. the portion was extremely generous, as both hubby and i picked off several pieces and friend still had a big pile to himself. this dish is highly recommended, but maybe as a large starter to split between a few people, unless you *really* like fried food as friend does. otherwise it does get pretty rich. i ended up with the Pescado a lo Macho after much debate and a server recommendation. this is now one of my favorite fish preparations in sf. the halibut filet was thin and lightly breaded then pan-fried, served under a fantastic tomato-chile based sauce that contained pieces of diced shrimp and mussels. a molded cylinder of perfectly cooked white rice rounded out the plate. really excellent, i thanked the server profusely for steering me in that direction.
sweets: we were full but had to sample a couple of desserts this time. hubby was focused on the flourless chocolate cake-- this was not on the menu and something the server recommended-- and friend and i decided to share the strawberry cheesecake (on the menu). the chocolate cake was extremely rich, even by hubby's standards, and had an interesting layer of raisins in the middle. this dessert is for those with a serious sweet tooth, very good but a VERY sweet combination of rich chocolate and raisins. the strawberry cheesecake was fantastic, moist and slightly dense with a drizzle of dulche de leche over and across the plate and cake. needless to say, by the end of our meal we were ready to be carried out on stretchers.
all in all, another excellent dinner at Mochica. food, service, and atmosphere were all top-notch and we left feeling full, happy, warm, and like we somehow underpaid ($120 before tax for 2 appies, 3 entrees, 2 desserts, all generously portioned, and a bottle of wine around $28 + one beer). i was heartened to see a full house that night and if word is spreading (as it should), this little gem should be with us for a while.