Amidst the Hangeul-littered streets of Koreatown stands a large, formidable building. The roof is arched, paneled with cold, blue tile, not unlike the Imperial Palace in Vegas. It screams "CHEESY CHINESE RESTAURANT!" It is, however, a temple of all gustatory things Oaxacan. I love Los Angeles.
Our large group is ravenous. Saturday at 6PM, the line is out the door. Large Latino famlies attend to vehicle-sized plates of food, servers whiz about like hyper ants, the five piece band (with three viejitos on marimba) amps up the festive atmosphere a few notches. Our reservations are immediately honored.
MESCAL Y CHAPULINES
Mescal is kinda nasty, actually. It tastes like cheap tequila liberally laced with gasoline. The accompanying lime and chile powder are essential in minimizing the gag reflex. We go with the 'blanco', but better varieties are available.
The chapulines are tiny, fried grasshoppers. Served with lime, Oaxacan string cheese, and onion slices. The whole plate is awash in deep red, a result of the truckload of chile powder they pour on the little buggers. Very salty, quite spicy, pretty tasty.
Eat bugs. Take shot. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's gonna be a good night!
A SAMPLE OF THE CHOW:
Many moles---red and black, with chicken, pork, and an enchilada. Contrary to what most folks seem to think on this board, I find the red mole sweeter, while the black is more complex, with a slightly burnt, smoky aftertaste. A plate of black mole looks like an oil spill. Good stuff.
Clayuda---the flatbread, Oaxacan style pizza. Extremely large, and hard to eat. Beans, cheese, and wonderful nuggets of spicy, heavenly chorizo. This is best ordered for everyone to share, as it gets a little redundant as an individual entree.
Memelas---a few for the table. Thick, handmade corn tortillas, topped with black bean puree and white cheese. To be dunked in a variety of molcajete-housed salsas. Awesome.
Cocteles de camarones---with lotsa avocado. Sweet, soupy, refreshing.
Goat taco---absolutely, friggin, god-damned delicious. Easily a foot long, it's a large thick tortilla absolutely bursting with wonderfully spiced, stewed goat meat. Served with a bowl of ruby red, "young goat consomme" loaded with floating chunks of hominy. Also limes and chopped up chile serrano for the truly insane. The table fought over this stuff.
Really, what a terrific meal. Despite the fact that we were the lone gringos, our two young waiters were fluent English speakers, eager to answer all of our menu questions. You'll be hard-pressed to find an entree that tops $14, while most are under ten.
To Mr Taster---I am familiar with your Mexican Restaurant theory. That is, quality of food is inversely proportional to quality of margaritas (if served at all). This outpost of GUELAGUETZA defies that. Food is excellent, margaritas are tasty and seriously impair your ability to walk or speak. Visit with a designated driver.
3014 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006-2516