Mariscos El Kora’s truck is one of three seafood specialists I’ve found on the streets of Salinas so far. After four visits, I find it the least of the three. However, it seems to be the most popular, always milling with customers. One Sunday I counted 14 chairs and even more than that number in customers munching on seafood-topped tostadas.
Mariscos truck -
Parked on the curb in front of 32 East Menke Street, the truck promotes “estilo Nayarit”. I asked whether it was under common ownership with El Kora restaurant on Griffin, and at one time it was, but is now separate.
What it still shares with the brick and mortar restaurant (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/352019) is an absolutely killer, housemade green salsa. A brilliant shade of green and extremely spicy with grassy overtones, this super hot sauce seems to be made solely of coarsely ground fresh chilis. A little goes a long way, be careful when you squirt it from the squeeze bottles. They’re generous in doling out a stryo cup of it whenever I’ve asked.
Tostada mixta -
My first time here I ordered the tostada mixta. I thought it was terrible, overcooked shrimp, tough octopus, and smelly fake crab. The tostada was sandy and lacking in much flavor. I did find it interesting that the rustic chunks of cucumbers and tomatoes were pressed onto the tostada under the big pile of seafood. After two bites, I dumped it.
But for another perspective on its possible appeal, another time I spoke to another customer who said he’d been coming here since high school (more than 10+ years). He’d tried the Las Glorias truck around the corner, but thought the seafood didn’t have as much flavor. He explained that he likes his food chunky with something to bite into, and I had to agree that the finer dice of the veggies at Las Glorias was a big contrast to the ungainly hunks of cucumbers here. Also, the serving size is bigger here, can’t disagree with that.
My second visit with David Boyk and Cyrus Farivar, we tried the campechana, $7. This was more solidly packed than the version at Las Glorias, and included some canned clams and cubes of abalone. The juices had a stronger briny flavor of canned clam juice and tomato water vs. the cool cucumber flavors of Las Glorias. Once we’d eaten part of it, the staff called us back to plop a couple raw oysters to top off our cocktail. Again, the portion size is bigger here. The oysters were the highlight of this, and after a few bites, David, like me didn’t feel like eating any more of this.
Campechana and tostada de ceviche -
I gave it another try during our taco truck crawl and chowdown last month. We tried the campechana again and ordered a tostada with fish ceviche. The cottony, dried out ceviche was awful, not even recognizable as fish. And, while the campechana was a strong contrast to the two Sinaloan style we’d had, “heidipie” said she didn’t want any more of this one.
I’ve been back one more time to get some raw oysters for my dad on Fathers Day when Las Glorias had already shut down. Asking for them “en vaso”, six shucked oysters with juices and chopped cucumber, tomato, and red onion was a bargain at $5, especially with the little cup of homemade green salsa. Yet, the oysters were poorly shucked, some stabbed through the center and bleeding their milky middles.
With four visits, I’ve given this one more than a fair shake. It’s not for me, but given it’s popularity with others, some might like to try it.
Salinas Chowdown Report -
Google Map of Salinas Street Food -
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