Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Foodie Girls Lunch Brigade - Episode 10

When my copy of LA magazine arrived and I saw the review, I knew immediately that our next FG stop had to be Mo-Chica. I alerted the troops via e-mail:

"I just read about another place downtown that sounds like it was made for the FG's...it's a Peruvian place in a Mexican mini mall run by a Japanese trained chef. Here's a rave from Jonathan Gold on their ceviche. Who's in?"

The FG's, that's who. Carpools have been arranged. We are converging from points all over LA. I have a visiting FG lined up. My camera is fully charged. I am heading out the door to catch my ride downtown when I notice a message has come in on my cell phone. Fatally, I retrieve it:

Hi. This is school. Your daughter is sick. Please come and get her right away.

Heart sinking, I return the call*.

Me: Hi. This is Sharon. What's going on?
School: She's sick. She needs to go home.
Me: Like, how sick?
School: [Silence]
Me: OK. I'm on my way.

Fortunately for my daughter, her tummy issues were of the non-swine, non-flu, non-contagious 24 hour variety. Fortunately for you, my fellow FG's came through with the scoop and the verdict. And fortunately for me, it looks like Mo-Chica is open for lunch every day.

I'm on my way.

Episode 10 - Mo-Chica's a Keep-a

A dispatch from FG2, with photos from FG3.

"It’s Monday and I drive down to my old digs, USC, and follow MapQuest to a Mercado to meet my hungry cohorts at Mo Chica, a Peruvian restaurant that is no restaurant. This is a counter in a bizarre food court that also hosts other places to eat and a few stands to get all of your Latino fashions. If you need a striped poncho this is the place to go.

I regress. Let’s talk food. I immediately YELP to get help in ordering, as FG1 has been yanked out of commission by a sick child. In true FG fashion, four of us intrepid souls powered through without her. But we did pout a little.

Here’s what we ordered:

Ceviche – Absolutely a must! Delicious tangy (read lemony) raw fish served with seaweed, hominy, and marinated red onions. Fresh and fantastic.

Potato appetizer – this was recommended on Yelp. Since it’s a daily special, ours came with crab. Two of us liked it and two of us really hated it. Order at your own peril.

Ling Cod – It was the fish special and the sauce it came in was fantastic. The fish was just okay.

Braised Ox tail – Another special. Another amazing sauce, but the meat was too fatty.

Lamb Shank – ORDER THIS!!!! We all agreed that this was the best dish, the lamb wasn’t too lamby and the braise it came in was perfectly spiced. To spoon this on rice was heaven.

Mushroom Quinoa (Keen-wa) – I personally ordered this because I love love love mushroom risotto and it didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, two of us don’t eat mushrooms, which made me sad because this quinoa was warm and porridgy and really hit the spot.

Despite ordering so many things, we were all obnoxiously eying the filet with giant fried potatoes on top. We should have ditched the oxtail and had that instead.

Everyone's order came with a thick veggie soup that had a slight kick and creamy finish. It made us wish the bowls were bigger.

The drinks were weird. Two of us had a passion fruit drink that was refreshing and two of us had an oddly thick barley hibiscus tea. I say, stick with diet coke.

The woman who took our order seemed like she might be a problem, but when she heard all of our “oooing and ahhing” over the food she pepped up towards us. The seating is a small “rural” area in front of the counter.

Was it worth the trip? Yes, especially midday when there isn’t a whole lot of traffic. But next time, we're not going without you, FG1!"

Right back at ya, FG2!

FG Final Verdict? Mo-Chica is ON the list!
Pricing Information: Nothing over $13 on the menu
FG Value Rating: Fair deal

* Why didn't they call her dad? He has a cell phone, a car and, most likely, nothing more exciting than a couple of slices of pizza on his lunch agenda.

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