Sometimes, when it comes to the more pleasurable things in life, it’s important to try something a little exotic to mix things up. Though it can be true that exotic to one person is everyday to another, there are a few rare instances that can excite even the most experienced hedonist.
One of Downtown LA’s newer additions to restaurant row, Mo-Chica is where I went to get my exotic on…hard. And I was not disappointed. In fact, it’s more accurate to say that I ate so much during my visit that I was ready to roll over and start snoring from the sheer combination of pleasure, excitement and post-digestive exhaustion.
Now, I’ve had some experience with Peruvian food, but nothing to hard core, just light PSDM (Peruvian Spicy Delicious Meal). So I was all aflutter when I looked over the menu and saw so many choices that referred to things I had never even heard of! My eyes widened as I anticipated how each dish would taste and my brow furrowed when I realized I’d have to narrow my options down to a manageable amount. I didn’t want to blow my wad (of cash) too quickly.
We started with something seemingly light and familiar…booze. And when it comes to booze that I consider outside the norm, I like to dabble in Mezcal. The Oaxacalifornia Love was the perfect combination of familiar summer flavors and exotic smoky mezcal. Just enough kink to get the party going.
The Beterraga was supposed to be the tame dish, a roasted beet salad. But the orange aji amarillo dressing added a sweetness that kept my interested piqued and kept my fork flirting with more and more.
Then came the dish I knew would knock my socks off, the ceviche carretillero. There is something so sumptuous about how Peruvians do ceviche. I don’t know if it’s the choclo, which is what I liken to natural corn nuts, or the seaweed, or the bitch slap of spice and citrus all mixed up with the fleshy, plump, tender seabass. Good lord I wanted to motorboat the hell out of that dish.
And because of my strong desire for ceviche, I ordered the albacore which was on special. Tender and in a great sauce, but if I’m being honest, the flavor profile was a bit too Japanese for what I was in the mood for…I wanted something nastier, you know? Japanese flavors are so clean and crisp that it was out of line with all the layers of the other courses.
I got right back into it with the Lomo Saltado. It was salty, but I love the salty stuff. And the tender meat with the roasted tomatoes and onions was a perfect heavy dish to follow the first three lighter ones. Things were starting to get intense.
To get really exotic, and push my hard limits, we tried the estofado de alpaca – alpaca stew over pasta with a fried egg. And much like my first experiences with the rough stuff outside of food, this dish both excited and worried me. What would it taste like? Would I enjoy it? Would I enjoy it too much? I poked the yolk oh so gently and watched the yellow goodness ooze onto the pasta. Oooh yeah baby, that looks soooo good. And let me tell you, it tasted even better.
And just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore. When I thought my senses were pushed to their pleasure limit, the colita de rez arrived. Oxtail, topped with fresh onion and placed atop a smooth bed of something close to risotto. Let’s just say that this dish was my ringer. Tender meat, creamy trigo de mote, fresh salsa criolla to balance it all out. That course made me it’s bitch.
We should have know that we had reached the climax. But like many hedonists, we wanted to go for one more. The Paiche was interesting. It tasted like a fish and a chicken had a smokey delicious hybrid. I liked it, sure, but I was already spent and sated. It was just overkill. My tastebuds were already desensitized.
I wanted to stop there. I knew I had had enough, I was panting and exhausted and wanted to take a nap. But my friend has the thing for fried desserts. So rather than using my safety word, I was a trooper and took a nibble of the Picarones. As far as fried food goes, it was good. Crispy outside, fluffy inside, and the sauce had a flavor reminiscent of rum and coffee. Did it take it too far? Perhaps, but at least I was able to try something new and see just how far I could go.
As my friend and I paid our bill and stumbled outside, we had that look of shame that only comes when someone over indulges in those parts of life that are deemed naughty. Quick downward glances, stuttering muted speech…we had done something over the top. And, most shameful of all, we knew we should be sorry, but we weren’t. Despite what we knew we should be feeling, we left there with the overwhelming urge to turn around and do it all over again.