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Restaurants & Bars

Langostinos @ Mariscos El Kora (Estilo Nayarit), Salinas

Melanie Wong | Dec 16, 200610:23 PM     1

Around the corner from Julio Valdez's tamale and hot dog cart, a sit-down Mexican restaurant painted outside with a colorful mural has always intrigued me. I've passed by many times intending to stop and finally ate there with my dad a couple weeks ago.

Image of El Kora's mural from the parking lot -
http://static.flickr.com/122/31614462...

We ended up at El Kora because Dad wanted a taco for lunch. It turns out there are none to be found on the menu here. Nor burritos. The cooking at this mariscos specialist is in the style of Nayarit. In fact the non-seafood dishes are limited to carne or pollo zarandeado and the only thing listed in English-only, chicken nuggets . The caldo de oso (bear soup) I learned is made from fish. (g)

As soon as we were seated, our waitress brought out a basket of stoneground corn tostadas along with cut limes and green salsa. The fresh salsa was blazing with chile heat. There were also a couple bottled chile sauces on the tables.

Image of cut limes, ultra-hot green salsa and tostadas -
http://static.flickr.com/117/31614462...

From the botanas side of the menu, Dad had an empanada de camaron, $1.50 each. He only wanted one, and our waitress warned us that it was small. I'd say it was cocktail nibble size, two or three medium-sized plain whole shrimp encased in a freshly fried turnover. The green salsa was too spicy for him, so he had it plain. The botanas also include ostiones en concha at $10 per dozen. I asked if it were possible to order fewer, and it's no problem here priced at a buck apiece. We ordered three oysters on the half shell and were served four for the same price. The fourth one was bad, so good thing.

The most attention-getting were the various dishes of langostinos on the menu, translated as "crayfish" and offered in six different preps. I tried the langostinos al mojo de ajo, $10, which comes with tortillas, rice and a choice of beans or salad. Three split crustaceans drenched in garlic butter were a bit of a challenge to tackle on the crowded plate. Browned nicely to bring out the flavor, the firm meat of the langostinos was juicy and not overcooked. Not as tender and loose textured as crayfish, these seemed more like a saltwater cousin to me. Especially tasty were the crystalized bits of concentrated juices, roe and fat clinging to the shells, the reward for sucking on the heads and spiny legs. The coarsely chopped and crushed pieces of garlic were a wonderment, some fried to crispy brown, most a sweetly carmelized golden tan soaked with butter, and then others tending more toward translucent and still firmish and pungent. While the frijoles were too pasty, they did provide a good vehicle for picking up each little nub of the garlic array. I loved the accompanying rice, which goes to show that converted rice can be turned into something grand when studded with corn kernels, a little onion and cilantro, and more of the glorious garlic butter. The thinnish handmade tortillas had a good dose of lime and velvety texture.

Image of langostinos al mojo de ajo -
http://static.flickr.com/116/31614461...

I'd love to hear what others recommend here.

Mariscos El Kora
Estilo Nayarit
153 Griffin St.
Salinas
831-753-6989

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