In an attempt to take part of the culinary vastness that is LA, I decided to go to both Oaxacan restaurants, but a week apart from each other. I didn't order similar dishes, so there's that scientific flaw, but hey, I'm not publishing a paper or anything. As ipsedixit might say, "Ipse dixit."
Last week I went to Guelaguetza.
I found the moles to be spot on, and thought that all the flavors worked well together. The barbacoa de chivo was a splendid highlight, and I love the fact that their chips and salsa are actually covered in their red mole and panela.
Today was Monte Alban's turn. Here's my more in-depth blog post:
Basically I was disappointed by the overwhelmingly sweeter Monte Alban mole. Don't know if that's just they're style or what, but I didn't enjoy it. Whereas at Guelaguetza I devoured everything in front of me, I struggled at Monte Alban to leave what I thought was a respectable amount still on the plate. It was a generous cut of chicken, somewhat of an airline-breast cut that included part of the collarbone. But it was just too much sweetness and I couldn't finish it. It wasn't so much covered in mole as it was lacquered.
The surrpise, though, was the tamal de mole negro. Meant to be an appetizer, this dish actually had superior flavor and complexity! First of all, the meat was more moist and the mole itself was spicy and sweet and smoky and earthy and a touch acidic and everything that I love about the sauce.
I'm going to make it a fair fight by going back to Guelaguetza for the chicken mole and then going to Monte Alban for barbacoa de chivo. Makes for a fun competition! But at this moment, for me, Guelaguetza has the lead.