I had posted this last week as an open invite on the board, so here's the report!
Unfortunately, ArizonaGirl had to cancel plans to meet at Mi Cocina, Mi Pais (but we ordered enough for you!), but it was nice to meet Aquablue for the first time. Since she's a regular here, and everything on the menu looked good to me, the plan was to let her do the ordering, and she did a great job. We started with shrimp ceviche, and an empanada trio - beef, pork, and chicken. Both appetizers were the highlight for me - firm sweet shrimp served in a goblet in a tomato/citrus sauce (similar to Mexican cocteles), and I liked the variety of empanadas. The chicken was listed on the menu as "chicken pie" as the dough was flakier and more pastry-like than the beef and pork empanadas. Don't ask me which was my favorite, I'd order them all again! They were especially good with the hot sauce made with sliced chilis. When we asked for hot sauce, I was expecting the addictive Peruvian green chili sauce called Aji verde or some Aji roja, but this was good too. We also ordered Aquablue's favorite tamale - the Ecuadorian steamed in banana leaves, but unfortunately they were out.
For entrees, we decided on the chicken 'stew', and the fish steamed in banana leaves with plantain chips. Unfortunately, both were overcooked, though the flavors were very good. The stew was chunks of boneless white meat in a tasty brothy sauce served with sauteed sweet plantains and rice. When I commented on the dryness of the chicken, Aquablue mentioned that in the past this had been served with dark and white meat chicken on the bone. Hopefully, they'll return to that, but I'm afraid it might be one of those instances where people complaind about the authentic prep of this dish and asked for boneless chicken breast.
She also taught me a good tip regarding the homemade desserts here - since they are made fresh, be sure to ask what they have left and 'reserve' them before you eat dinner as they sell out quickly. I really liked the quinoa cookie - crispy, not too sweet, with a unique toasty/crunchy texture from the quinoa (one of my favorite grains), and the coconut flan was very good too.
Though I thought it I had read that it bills itself as Peruvian also, the menu was definitely more Ecuadorian (which of course makes sense since the owner is from Ecuador!). I thought that the chicha morada could have used more spices (chicha morada is a sweet purple corn-based drink often made with cinnamon and cloves). I also thought it was interesting to be served chips and salsa when we sat down. One of my favorite restaurants back in Boston is Peruvian, so I was a bit disappointed not to see more of my favorite classic dishes on the menu (papa rellenas, aji de gallina, and Peruvian ceviche - raw fish, shrimp, or octopus marinated in lime juice, etc. served with corn or yuca), but look forward to returning to Mi Cocina, Mi Pais to learn more about Ecuadorian cuisine and explore the menu.
Friendly service, and such a small, homey spot - I'll definitely return. Thanks aquablue - I had a great time!
Mi Comida Restaurante Latino
4221 W Bell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85053