This Chinese/Mexican place has been getting a lot of buzz in the NYT even before it opened, which it only recently has. We checked it out last night, and were fortunate to have Chef José Andrés in the kitchen on a Tuesday evening. The experience was a very good one.
Actually made reservations with Open Table, and since we'd not eaten since breakfast, made them for 5 p.m. Arrived at 4:55 to an empty restaurant with a nervous hostess who was unwilling to seat us - turns out that the staff was having a meeting (Chef Andrés was there) which ended up a little after five. I got irritated and almost bolted - am glad I didn't.
The front of the restaurant looks like a mall fast food. Not a good first impression. There are even takeaway windows for Mexican and Chinese food. My wife was giving me the "I thought you said this was a good place; it looks like Hot Dog On A Stick" gripe.
Once led inside (they have communal tables, but I grabbed a four-top for the three of us - I kinda hate eating with other people whom I don't know) , the place revealed itself to be pretty nicely decorated. Lots of changing ethnic photos projected on the walls and on a large sculpture of a head. The tables were some sort of composite - pretty - and there was a nice mirrored wall that allowed us to totally escape the shopping mall feel that we'd gleaned from the entrance.
Staff was amazingly friendly (cheers to Brea, our server) and knowledgeable. Drinks were interesting: I had a "salt air margarita," which had a salt foam floating atop the well-made drink - this was one of the best margaritas I've ever had (I had a couple by the time I left), as the salt foam was the perfect way to deliver salt to the drink. My wife had a "lemon drop soup" - sort of a lemon drop served with sweet lemon noodles one could chopstick out of the glass. She thought it was tasty, but didn't get a second.
I've got to get somewhere here in a hurry, so this will be a short review: we had a couple orders of cochinita (pibil) tacos (that were outstanding) and carnitas tacos (served with little chunks of chicharrones for crunch - they were very delicious) - both served with a chipotle/tomato salsa, a shrimp cocktail (my wife loved it), some guacamole - very delicious, and I'm fussy on this (but somewhat mild, even in its "spicy" iteration), a Mongolian beef salad (tasty, wonderfully crisp greens, probably not worth the $15 charge), steamed pork buns - very delicious, if light on the pork, with a very light, airy dough, and, for dessert, the terra cotta chocolate warrior - nestled on a bed of crumbled salty gingery cocoa, very sophisticated cocoa-chocolate, not the usual choco-glop one expects, with a chocolate ice cream center, and a goat milk flan - spec-tac-u-lar . . . one bite would have been enough - served with carmelized pineapple (they almost didn't release this to us, as the chef was unhappy with how the flans were shaping up).
Dinner for three with two cocktails a piece and tip ran a bit over $200. I'd go again tonight. Let me see how many pictures Chowhound will let me attach - I took a lot.